A guest blog from Rudi Le Roux, COO, Investec Bank (CI) Limited.
Leadership, as a topic, covers a very wide area of research and ideas. We are still trying to define what leadership actually is. I’m not going to define leadership for you, as I believe that the definition of leadership is specific to you and where you are with your own leadership development. Leadership is not something you develop overnight or by attending a six-month leadership course.
Leadership develops over time when you are intentional about your own development and by being self-aware about your development needs
My own leadership development journey has led me to the theme for this blog: clarity and transparency.
Clarity is defined as the quality of being clear. What does clarity have to do with leadership? The short answer is everything, as leaders (people with influence rather than people in hierarchical senior positions) need to ensure clarity in everything they say or do. They need to be clear about:
- The purpose – what business are you in and why?
- The vision – in his book, Connection Culture, Michael Stallard defines vision as ‘the dream of a desirable future state’.
- The mission – the goal you are aiming for.
- The strategy – how to achieve the vision and mission.
Without clarity, leaders unintentionally create (controlled) chaos. Leadership is being aware that the responsibility for clarity rests with you. It is a responsibility that will frustrate you and give you restless nights. None of it is easy and there is no simple solution. Be intentional about being clear. Once you have clarity the real work begins.
Communication is key to driving clarity – ensuring your message is received loud and clear. How else will your organisation know what the purpose is if you don’t remind them on a regular basis? Stick to a few rules:
- Keep it short and simple – nobody can remember more than a paragraph or two.
- Communicate often – your organisation, teams and staff need to hear your message as often as possible.
- Know your audience – it begins with your whole organisation, but needs to reach each team and then each individual.
Transparency needs to join clarity to help clarity achieve the vision, mission and strategy
The people around us need to know how the organisation is doing against its vision, mission and strategy. We need to show them the results (measured against the goal and the strategy), discuss the challenges and celebrate the successes. Warning: keep to the facts. Don’t make things up as you go along. When you make an assumption, say so. When it is your perception, let them know. Otherwise, keep it factual. When clarity and transparency join hands, leaders start improving engagement.
Being clear and transparent will start building trust and relationships that form the key building blocks for improving engagement. Your organisation, teams, colleagues or staff want to belong, be respected and be appreciated. They spend most of their waking hours with you, so treat them as family.
A final thought: test if you are being clear and transparent. Find ways to obtain feedback from everybody around you. I find that listening, really listening, gives you most of the feedback you need. Listening is always complemented by asking questions. This shows that you are listening and do care about each individual. Through listening and questioning you will get instant feedback showing you if your message was clear and if you need to be more transparent.