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Here's how I went from mediocre to specialist…

Here’s how I went from mediocre to specialist…

How do you judge someone’s ability as a leader? Is it their ability to get results? What about their team members getting results? How do you determine whether the results are good? Do the team members hit their minimum goals, so can’t be classed as not getting the results, or do they over achieve? If they over achieve, is that because the levels were set too low to begin with, or because the team is excelling?

Or, do you judge a leader’s ability based on something other than results? Employee happiness is one way, but are they happy because they’re never put under any pressure, or because they feel engaged and fulfilled with their work?

Measuring a leader’s ability is tough!

In my early days as a leader within the RAF, I was predominantly results focused.  I felt that I must be a good leader, because I was getting results and further promotions, as were my team members. It wasn’t until later in my career that was I realised that I was managing, not leading.

Management is important, as is getting the results. Ultimately, in business, if we don’t get the results needed, the business fails and people lose their jobs. We don’t need to look too far into the news though to see that results doesn’t always guarantee job security. When we focus on being a manager, rather than a leader, and if we’re lucky enough to have hardworking, self-motivated, people working for us, we will get results, but at what cost?

When I look back at my early days as a leader (manager!) I realise that I relied on rank and goodwill to get the results. Those times that the goodwill wasn’t there became a real challenge. As a human being, I fell into the trap of self-protection and blamed the other person – “it can’t be me, everyone else on my team are doing well”, I would say to myself. The fact that I went into blame meant it became almost impossible to generate the goodwill. What I learned later on though was that there was no blame to be had, at all. The individuals concerned had no blame, nor did I. They were being them, I was being me, we just had conflicting personalities, communication styles, and internal motivators. What I lacked was the education, and understanding, about these differences and what I needed to do to ensure they didn’t become a barrier.

It started with attending a Listening Skills Course, held by the Armed Forces Chaplaincy Centre.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t really want to go, but it was mandatory for the role I was in, so I went.

I can’t remember the specific conversation we were having, but something resonated with me. Understanding that communicating goes significantly deeper than just having a general conversation, passing instructions, and hearing what others have got to say, sparked a much deeper curiosity in human behaviour and psychology. It was this curiosity that led me on a developmental pathway that means I’m now able to call myself a leadership development specialist. It was all because I was lucky enough to not have a choice but to attend a course that, initially, I didn’t really want to go on.

Human Beings are fascinating. We are both extraordinary and barking mad! Our tendency to self-sabotage, be it relationships or personal development, is mind blowing! As is our ingenuity, creativity and ability to love with passion.

When we hold managerial responsibility and manage well, we get results. People are trained, targets are met, bonuses are received (hopefully!) and career enhancement may well follow. The downside is (unless we’re lucky enough to be doing a job we love) when we manage, everything – particularly are people challenges – is just hard work. It lowers our energy, our mood, our productivity, and sometimes our relationships.

When we lead though, when we understand people at their core, we’re able to tap into their internal drives and motivators. We’re able to communicate with them in a way that excites them. When we’re able to do this, it doesn’t matter what the job is, we’re able to help our people feel engaged and fulfilled to want to put the hard work in to achieve great results. When we lead, and are led, while we might feel tired after putting a shift in, our energy remains positive. This means our mood remains positive, our productivity remains high, and our relationships become far greater than ever.

This is what One Degree specialises in. We help managers become great leaders.

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