Oct 20 2021| Leadership | leaders | Values

Three Leadership Thoughts for the Young Business Group

Last month Leaders' Founder, Phil Eyre, attended an event with the Young Business Group, where he gave a talk on three hallmarks for effective leadership.

by Phil Eyre Leaders' Founder

Three leadership thoughts for the YBG

Why do you work? Why do you get out of bed and give your best energy to what it is you're doing?

Last month I attended an event with the Young Business Group, where I gave a talk on three hallmarks for effective leadership. Here’s what I believe they are:

Meaning really matters

We can sometimes find ourselves focusing a lot on what we're doing, rather than why we do it. Being clear and focused on what makes work and life and work meaningful is far more important than frenetic activity. So, whilst being motivated to earn a decent living is okay, what's even more important is:

  • How we're making a difference to the world;
  • How we're improving other people's lives; and
  • How we're contributing to this place we call home.

If we can connect our work with meaning and focus, that's where we are at our best. A good way to think about this is when we're introducing ourselves to each other. It's very tempting to ask, what you do, or where you work, but a better and slightly more challenging question, I think, is why you do what you do. Why do you work? Why do you get out of bed and give your best energy to what you're doing? That's the real driver and motivator. It can be quite easy to get drawn into the financial benefits, but that isn’t the driving factor for good leaders. The money is a symptom, or bi-product, of something more important. Meaning really matters.

The clients that any of us clash with the most are the ones that don’t share our beliefs, ethos and sense of contributing to the world. Our best clients are those that have that shared perspective on what’s truly important.

Similarly, our best colleagues are those who have a shared sense of purpose in what we do, the ones who, like ourselves, are committed to a similar big objective. If there isn't a big objective, you're just meandering through, working hard, but without purpose.  

Author and inspirational speaker, Simon Sinek, says that working hard for something we don't care about is called stress, working hard for something that we love is called passion. Some days will feel like a stretch, it's just work. But if we can connect much of our time with something meaningful, then we're going to be bringing the best of ourselves to our colleagues and customers alike. Chances are we’ll be enjoying our work a lot more, too!

Show up and show up well

At the event, I asked what people think is the most underrated leadership skill. There were a lot of great responses to this, but my proposition is that a truly underrated skill is showing up consistently well. Thinking about the work is not the work. Talking about the work is not the work. Only showing up and doing the work is the work. This is about bringing our best and choosing to bring our best day in, day out, regardless of our mood. We must choose to focus on the right things and to prioritise our efforts. We need to do that consistently, whether we're having a great day or a terrible day.

Quick fixes don't work, ‘get rich quick’ doesn’t work. Climbing the career ladder fast doesn’t work. The phrase ‘go big or go home’ often leads us to going home, whereas that consistency of effort and consistency of practice is what achieves success in the long run. It is a cumulative return, much like training for a marathon. You cannot turn up to a marathon without training, even Olympians need to put in the hours and the miles in practice. If we consistently put in the effort, we'll achieve the objective we want to achieve. However, this idea of consistent focus for an extended period of time is becoming less well received. People have got short attention spans and may have expectations that are unrealistic in terms of speed of success. It may be tempting to give up too quickly because we haven't achieved everything that we wanted to achieve fast enough.

Excellence is achieved by consistent effort.

We live in an age that really cares about how things are seen. Accolades achieved, certificates, awards, experiences, titles, position and status. We care about how things are seen and how we're regarded, whereas in fact, it's the consistent effort behind the scenes that creates the real success. When someone wins an award at the Olympics, the photo we see is them standing on the podium. What we don’t see is everything that has gone into that, the hours of effort, training, failing, recovering. Podium moments happen, but only if we put the effort in.

Think to the finish

‘Think to the finish’ is a phrase from Major General Patrick Marriott, one of our collaborative partners and formerly Commandant at Sandhurst Military Academy. We need to think about what we’re working towards all the way through, particularly during a demanding task. If we don’t do this, then the work just becomes grinding and miserable. We must constantly be encouraging people in the team to think about where the task is going, whatever that might mean for you. Frequently leaders have the endpoint in their minds, but they don't communicate clearly the whole point to the years' worth of work, or the whole point of the event, or whatever it might be.

We need to think about what we want to be known or renowned for as people. Think about the kinds of words you would want to be described as at a meaningful birthday. At those times it's very rarely all about career and business success, it is much more about character qualities. Ask yourself what you, in your character, are developing and what really matters to you. The second question to ask yourself is how you are helping to build on those sorts of character strengths or qualities. We can practice these things and that's far more important than the specific jobs that we do.

Great leaders build up new leaders and look forward to being overtaken. An up-and-coming person that you're developing isn't a threat, they’re a delight. Think beyond your own position and beyond your own time in a role. Some CEOs only think to the finish of their term and as a result, their behaviours and decisions are short-term focused. Sometimes, the best measure of a successful term of office is how the business is doing 5 or 10 years after the CEO has moved on. 

Meaning really matters. Show up and show up well. Think to the finish. These are what I believe are the three hallmarks of a great leader. If you think about why you do what you do and what you want to be known for, then you will already be demonstrating the traits of a great leader.

About The Author | Phil Eyre

Phil is Leaders’ founder. He has an enthusiastic and inspiring style, drawing on his experience in business, academia and social sectors to help any leadership team to achieve phenomenal performance. Phil has significant expertise in sophisticated psychometrics and in the application of human data for individual, team and organisational success. He has trained with and been mentored by, global leaders in this field, notably Dr Chuck Coker in the US. Phil began his career in the UK offshore finance industry in 1994, working for a wealth management company, Canaccord Genuity Wealth International. Phil was head of the company's Guernsey division, with a staff of 120 and assets under management of £4.5billion before resigning from executive responsibilities in 2008. Since launching Leaders in 2017, Phil has worked with many senior executives and boards primarily in the Channel Islands and City of London. He regularly writes for a variety of business publications and is often invited to speak at events for institutions such as the IoD and the British Army. Phil works closely with clients on focussed projects and long-term retainers to raise leadership standards. He is a popular and inspiring educator and coach who, with the insights gained from psychometrics, is able to accurately detect the strengths and weaknesses in leadership teams and boards. Phil has served on the boards of various charities, ran the Guernsey hub of a national theology college, received accreditation as a pastor in the Baptist Union of Great Britain and is accredited in various motivation and behavioural techniques.

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