When we think about leaders whether they are people we know personally or famous people from history what we tend to think about are how they dealt with particular situations. Or perhaps it’s the differences they made and the particular taglines that have become attached to them. Just search for leadership quotes on the internet and you will be inundated with them.
Each effective leader is effective in a given situation. Whether individuals consciously modify what they do and how they behave to accommodate the situation is a moot point. To my mind these people are effective because they consciously focus on three aspects at any one time and at the same time consider how they personally interact with those around them.
What are the required outcomes?
Just where does the business need to get to for it to be considered a success? The outcomes that determine success are key and the leader needs to ensure those around them, including suppliers, are fully bought into this. The vision, mission, strategy and plans need to be understood and the best leaders ensure these are kept as simple as possible (the worst let committees and consultancies produce huge tomes that no-one understands but at the same time aren’t honest enough to admit that).
Recognizing the environment
Unless the leader can gain a thorough understanding of the environment in which they are required to operate then it doesn’t matter what they believe the outcomes need to be, there will be a miss-match between their intentions and the reality in which the business sits. The environment will include internals within the business, the way it operates and the culture that permeates everything. Taking that 100 days to watch and see what happens after a new leader takes over makes absolute sense even if the gut feeling is to make a difference from day one.
Understanding your resources
Resources of course include people, the talent at the leaders disposal. Getting an understanding of which direction each of the top team think they are headed is essential early on. In any given situation different people will have different views on the right direction and approach to be taken and it’s the leaders responsibility to find that out and deal with it. Others around the table will have their own personal power and influences that must be anticipated by the leader. If this sounds far too political then maybe it is, but that’s what a leader must be comfortable with even if their own style is to be more open and transparent than those around them.
So whatever the situation is, good or not so good, the leader must determine where they need to get to and recognize the resources they have to play with while keeping an eye on a complex environment and figuring out what outcomes will get them to their destination. This is a great deal to keep track of for anyone and requires the leader to consciously watch and see what’s happening around them as much as getting involved as making a difference.