A common characteristic amongst the leaders and future leaders who attend our programmes is the desire to improve their personal brand within their organisations. They recognise that this involves the ability to be able to motivate themselves to go above and beyond and step outside their comfort zones. Johanne Malin explains further.
One of the most rewarding aspects of my job as a Leadership Consultant is meeting managers from the hugely diverse world of work. Diverse in a number of aspects: In terms of nationality, this month alone I’ve worked with developing leaders from India, China, Dubai, Canada, USA, UK and France. Diverse in terms of age; from young, high potential graduates to ‘twilight career’ non-exec directors. Diverse in terms of experience including those who are brand new to people management and those in the ‘seen it all before’ brigade.
However, whilst their personal make-up may vary, and their roles, teams and industries are very different, their professional motivation towards being a great leader and improving their personal brand appears to be the same. I thought I might share with you some of the inspirational encounters I’ve had this month which have demonstrated to me a shared belief across cultures and generations that leadership is all about personal motivation.
First, I met a young Chinese software developer who spoke little English and had travelled overseas for the first time in order to attend one of our management development programmes. He was about to take on a global IT role, managing a remote team of people based in America, India and Hong Kong.
Despite clearly being an introvert, and having previously only ever worked in small, specialist teams, he said to me: “I need to find a way of connecting with people. I want to show them that I’m really interested in their ideas and I want them to tell me how I can help them.”
For three days I observed him gradually stepping outside his comfort zone and soaking up every moment of every workshop. Soon, he was asking questions to clarify his understanding, listening to debates to expand his world-view and building a network of peers who he’ll be able to call upon for help, support and advice.
It’s often the things that people do for others that make the biggest difference and demonstrate true leadership. For example, during an exercise designed to help line managers improve the performance of their direct reports, one participant told the group how she had recently recruited a very experienced and high performing analyst but because this person was tucked away in a remote site and had no internal network of her own, she was not being fully utilised.
Aware how difficult it is to work out who’s who around the organisation and how time consuming it can be to build relationships with myriad stakeholders, the participant decided to mount a PR/marketing campaign to promote the talents and services of her new analyst. She took her along to all her meetings, introducing her to key people and other business areas. The net result being an improvement in the personal brand of both the participant and the analyst.
The next example I saw recently was a very senior manager in a large retail group who had assembled his leadership team for an off-site development day for the first time in over a decade. Despite being a very successful organisation, he told them that it was vital that they became better leaders and that the ‘leadership piece’ was going to be key to their growth.
This was clearly a new concept to the assembled team. But, a genuine belief in self-improvement on his part, and a commitment to invest more in development, resulted in motivating them to find, nurture and retain talented people.
And finally, a colleague of mine who spent the summer mounting an expedition to conquer K2 – the second highest mountain in the world. He’s an example of how important self-belief is when taking big risks. He has plenty of technical knowledge and experience, he is focussed and committed, he works with all the right people and has lots of support and encouragement – but this alone is never enough. His drive, determination and desire to be successful against the odds was an inspiration to the hundreds of people who followed his adventure and resulted in the ultimate success: having him back with us and his family, safe and sound.
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