So that is it. Those were the 11 most common mistakes that young leaders make, and some tips to avoid them. I hope that you have seen by now that leadership is not a toolbox that can be stocked with handy gizmos, gadgets, and devices to suddenly help you fix any managerial hiccup with some sort of magical wave of this leadership tool or that. Nor is there one defining list of characteristics that one requires in order to become an impactful leader of people. Leadership is the development of an antenna to read myriad business situations and use your honed instinct, supported by your reflected values, to make an honest, transparent decision, which you believe will lead to quality.
The vast majority of people who choose to leave their jobs do so not because of their tasks or responsibilities but because of their boss (Figure 12.1). Leaders are the reason why 75 percent of the people quit. We do not quit our jobs, we quit our bosses (Trupath 2015). Do not be that guy! Most of us have known or experienced poor leaders, leaders who did not motivate intrinsically, did not act as a role model, did not lead transformationally, and did not support in a strengths-oriented manner. Do you want one of my easiest leadership tips?
Do not be that guy!
Do not be the reason for your people to quit. It is mighty hard for us to change others, but we are in a position to develop ourselves every day. Work on yourself to become the leader you would like to become (not that guy).
Your Leadership Compass
Now that you have finished the book, I invite you to think about what comes next. Every day is a school day, and today is no different. To help you to continue your self-reflection, develop your own personal development project (PDP). Your PDP represents the areas of your leadership skill set upon which you would like to improve. Your PDP is not, for example, I would like to sell more products or I would like to get promoted at work. Your PDP is personal, related to your leadership and communication and is grounded in your values.
For the last time in this book (I promise), take a large piece of paper. Get yourself a bunch of magazines, newspapers, shots from the net or books, and trawl through until you find images that you would like to use in your collage. The images should represent your values, hopes, challenges, goals, strengths, and skills, and—combined—they defend your philosophy on leadership. This collage is your leadership compass, and you should return to it in sticky leadership times, when you need guidance or reminding of your leadership foundation. We ask our participants to create, present, and be proud of such collages at the end of almost all the young leader programs we deliver. It is the culmination of all your thoughts on leadership and you deserve to be very proud of it. Some of my participants have kindly allowed me to share their collages (Figures 12.2, 12.3, 12.4) with you to give you an idea of the kind of thing that you could create.
And finally, what you are about to embark on is a not a leadership journey, it is a period of change. Every new project, in this case, your PDP, represents a change and understanding, and embracing change as an opportunity is essential for transformational, situational leaders.
When faced with a new, changing environment, such as a PDP, humans typically experience six stages (Figure 12.5) of mental reflection (Prochaska and Velicer 1997).
- Precontemplation (resistance): No intention nor desire to change behavior
- Contemplation (getting ready): Awareness of issue and need for change, but no commitment to engage
- Preparation (ready): Intention to change behavior or to address the issue
- Action: Conscious, implemented modification of behavior
- Maintenance: The new behavior has now replaced the old, and changes needs to be sustained
- Relapse: Behavior slips back into old patterns
When faced with a change process (for example, your personal development), we often express resistance (precontemplation) at first. Things have functioned as they were. Why mess with the formula? After some research, coaching, and consideration, we often appreciate the potential of change and enter into the contemplation stage (contemplation), where we begin to consider our options and chances, without actually getting active. The click happens, when we decide to do something about it (preparation) and begin to plan our change strategy. Implementing that strategy or approach is known as the action phase (action). The final challenge for anyone wanting to realize genuine change in their life is to maintain the modification in behavior and make that the new normal (maintenance). Sadly, some slip back into old patterns (relapse), and as the diagram shows, this can send us back to the beginning of the loop. We now need to begin the whole process again to establish genuine change. It is important to remember that the loop is not uni-directional. People often jump up or down the stages before they develop a comfort zone for change. Such backward and forward motion in our acceptance of change is totally normal.
Take a moment to consider where you are right now, regarding your PDP, along the six stages of change. Are you sensing internal resistance to the impending change of role? Are you already preparing for the new paradigm of leadership or have you already taken action and implemented some cultural change? Whatever the status quo, regularly ask yourself what you need to advance to the next stage of change and jump to a lower stage of change to reappraise or start again. Change is constant, and change is fine. Change in ourselves can be frightening but it is what moves us to new achievements. Embrace it and strive to be a little better at what you do every day.
Driving the bus can be great fun. Good luck with it but remember, safety first. Do not forget to fasten your seatbelt.