Leadership is an inexhaustible topic when it comes to business and its improvement. It is often said that leaders are the pillars of the company and that the culture of the entire organization rests on them. But how much and how often do you invest in these kind of “heroes” of organizations? Again, it all depends on the company and its policy.
There is a lot of talk in the business environment about the type of leadership, its application and real usability in working with teams. And there are a lot of experts from whom you will hear diametrically opposed views. Because of that, one of the last divisions of leaders is into traditional and agile. Whether this division is correct or appropriate is not for us to judge.
I know from experience that you can find “agile” leaders in a large, “traditional” organization, such as furniture manufacturing or printing, and come across a “traditional” leader in a very agile, hitech company that deals with software or state-of-the-art technology.
All this leads us to the fact that the organization really consists of leaders and their attitude towards team members. Who knows how many times it has been shown that people stay or leave the company because of their leader, and not because of the company’s policy or salary. So what kind of people are these, these “superheroes”, leaders?
Quite ordinary, one of us and I’m sure you know some. But what is it then that makes the difference between a good and a “less good” leader? The answer is simple, mindset, ie. the way of thinking. And therein lies the key difference between an agile and a traditional leader, not in the organization in which they are located. An agile leader has four characteristics, much more developed and usable than a traditional leader. Those are:
- Responsibility. An agile leader always takes responsibility on himself, he does not transfer it to someone else, and especially not to a member of his team.
- Curiosity. A leader with an agile mindset has an insatiable hunger for knowledge, learning and exploring better options.
- Reflection. What did I do well today, what could I have done better, how will I implement it in my work tomorrow are the daily questions of an agile leader.
- Unconditionally positive attitude. In order to share all these characteristics and life virtues with his team, a leader needs a non-judgmental attitude towards every team member, even towards life.
An agile leader regularly uses a large set of development tools to help his team achieve top results. He develops the members of his team, helps them to master the technically necessary knowledge as soon as possible and is always there for them. On the other hand, a leader manages complex relationships within a team and uses the strongest weapon a leader can possess, trust. Trust in the leader, but also in each member of the team is the key to leading an agile team.
When it comes to trust, coaching is the most powerful tool. When you start doing coaching with someone, you never know which way you would go. As long as you know the outcome, the destination where you are off to, coaching is a great “vehicle” that will take you there. And that is why in leadership coaching two basic groups that need coaching are recognized.
The first group, big group are the team members. On their development path, they encounter obstacles, ups and downs on a daily basis. A leader is there to hear them out, to understand and support them. You won’t believe how little it takes for a team member to get up when he falls and run again, this time even faster because he overcame an obstacle and learned something from that fall. A true leader will never condemn a mistake, he will be persistent in asking the question, “What did you learn from that? What would you do differently now? ” Because that’s how a person grows, that’s how future leaders are created, maybe even better than today’s ones.
The other group that needs coaching are, of course, the leaders. As we said at the beginning, leaders are people from our environment, with their own problems and business challenges. How to deal with an unpleasant situation when you need to give feedback to your team member, how to earn or regain authority, but the real one, coming from the team and not from the top of the organization. Leadership coaching is therefore often more complex than coaching a team member. Often, the coach uses his techniques to remove the burden from the leader’s back, shapes it, breaks it down, makes cotton from steel and returns him to his coachee.
That is why only a certified coach is someone who is allowed to support such a complex mindset as that of a leader. A certified coach has a completely clear process of working with a leader, what they can all come across together on their journey, how to support their client, when to be there for him, and when to let him travel alone. Because, at the end of the day, the coachee is the one who is responsible for the coaching results and the changes he wants. Or doesn’t want.
Finally, I would like to mention one of the most common beliefs, “you do not become a leader, you are born a leader”. Or perhaps, “you become a leader by believing in yourself, everyone can become a leader.” So if the first quote is true, or maybe the second one is, why do we still have so many good and “less good” leaders?