The next key leadership trait is being eclectic. This simply means not ascribing to one single way of leading and having an open mind to possibilities. Importantly it allows for spontaneity, and a more natural leadership style to come through.
Now this doesn’t mean that you don’t have the bigger picture in mind or a strategy for where you are leading the team. This is still an essential requirement…but how you get your team to the end goal is where being eclectic can be a huge advantage. Take the bridge in this photograph; the big picture is to get across the river, and I'm sure that the people who built this bridge would have liked to have had timber, nails and a range of tools at their disposal. However what is clear is that whilst this wasn't the case, the people who built this drew on the resources and experience available to achieve the goal.
So what does being eclectic mean?
I will leave this post with a different way of thinking about leadership and being eclectic. Imagine the song, ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’. I can guarantee that if you have attended half a dozen jazz festivals that you have heard this tune played in half a dozen different ways. Yet each time you heard it you knew the name of the tune and how it would end (‘the bigger picture’)…and the journey that each of the jazz groups took to achieve the final note was most likely very different. However the big question is this…were any of these versions the ‘wrong’ version? No, of course not. Each group simply played the tune to suit their personality and the experience within the band. The same goes for choosing your leadership style.
Be eclectic, and lead to your own tune.
Flexibility will help you survive, and succeed, in leadership.
Research has told us for some time that those of us who don’t cope well with stress tend to fear change. This impacts on our ability to make effective decisions, not just for ourselves, but for those we lead as well.
Most importantly it reduces, or removes, our ability to be flexible; to bend with breeze, roll with the punches, and then be resilient enough to pick ourselves up and just get on with it.
There are two easy things you can start doing today that will help you increase your flexibility and resilience as a leader:
Prioritise Need to Know versus Nice to Know
We all know that the pace of change in business and life is rapid, and the reality is that we won’t be able to keep up with everything. Yet this is an increasing source of stress for leaders, especially in global organisations with complex structures where it seems policy, process and structure is shifting on a regular basis. The key is to be smart; prioritise the changes that are important for you to be across against those that are nice to be known. This will not only help you think more critically about what is happening in your organisation or industry, it is a rational process that allows you to develop skills in time management (which as we all know is another source of stress!)
Improve Your Stress-Awareness
Leadership can be a lonely place; and if you are a leader responsible for driving change it can be even lonelier. This is not the ideal environment to be experiencing destructive stress. Unlike constructive stress, that’s sort of stress we experience when we are being stretched, learning new things or playing sport for example, destructive stress has it’s foundation in unhealthy beliefs about our self, and our ability to deal with situations. When we experience destructive stress we are unable to access the full range of possible solutions to problems, because we are more focussed (unconsciously) on protecting ourselves.
To improve your stress-awareness, the quickest and most effective way to get results is to team up with a coach, mentor or counsellor who is qualified to explore with you the source of your stress, and to help you work with it. Alternatively, depending on the level of stress you may experience, there are plenty of online resources available, and of course volumes of books in the self-help section of your local book store.
I guess the key message is to do something about it!
An effective leader is a healthy-minded and resilient leader. Remember that your behaviour is out there for all to see, including the decisions you make and how you make them. If you are able to keep up with the changes in your organisation and industry, and have a healthy level of stress-awareness, then you are in a far better place from which to lead.