CRAFTING EXCEPTIONAL LEADERSHIP
At the beginning of the year, I decided to be more serious with my fitness journey. The interesting fact is that I have tried many times to consistently live a healthy lifestyle. What I didn’t realise was that I was in charge of myself. And if I couldn’t influence myself to do what I had to do to live right, it was more than likely that I would fail at influencing other people. To be an effective and successful leader, you must first be able to lead yourself. So, when it came to waking up and working out, I knew I was the only one who could drag myself out of bed and get things done. I am not implying that as leaders we need to be supermen or superwomen but we will be doing ourselves and our people a disservice if we are unable to influence our thoughts and decisions.
Every great leader I know has a story. They have experienced a lot and they have carved their skills, personalities and thought processes from those experiences. In one of Netflix’s new series, Decoding Bill Gates, I truly understood what makes the second richest man. Bill had always been a brilliant man. In his childhood days, he stood out from his class. He topped competitions that children two to five years older than him couldn’t make headway. He was smart but was he a great leader? No, he wasn’t. Bill was socially awkward and found it challenging to interact with his close family and friends. Through intentional nurturing and socializing from his mother, he was moulded into the Bill Gates we see today; empathetic, serving, thoughtful and solution-oriented.
As a High-Performance Coach, I have retold my story over and over again. The goal is not to simply tell my story to as many people as possible or even gain sympathy. The art of story-telling is a part of being a creative leader. Through our stories, we can find common points with our people and influence them. John Maxwell writes that “everyone communicates but very few people connect.” In an interview for Forbes, Director of Consumer & Communications Research at Procter & Gamble, Paul Smith, who has spent a career observing and researching discussed what it takes to connect with, inspire, and motivate a change in human behaviour. Whether it’s the CEO’s speech to the board of directors or the hallway conversation with your boss, his conclusion is this: the difference is storytelling. In this interview, Paul talks about how to use storytelling as a leadership tool, ways that storytelling can make leaders more effective, why storytelling is important, and more.
“In my research for the book, I interviewed over 75 CEOs and executives at dozens of companies around the world and found them using stories in a much wider range of leadership challenges than I ever expected. For example, storytelling is useful when heavy influence is required like leading change, or making recommendations to the boss. But it’s also good for delicate issues like managing diversity and inclusion or giving people coaching and feedback in a way that will be received as a welcome gift. It can help bring out more of people’s creativity or help them rekindle their passion for their work. In all, I identified 21 common leadership challenges where storytelling can help.”
Can leaders lead without being in communication with their followers? Can they influence without having a genuine connection with their people? Two key things always influence successful leadership – people and connected relationships. So far, we can establish that we need people, connected relationships, a story and influence as key skills if we want to be great leaders.
Before I was exposed to different environments and cultures, I was quite heavily influenced by African style leadership. For instance, for what I was exposed to, I noticed that it is very difficult for African parents to be upfront with their emotions. In school, our teachers usually took a very straight approach. The system was an “I instruct and you obey” kind of approach, which interestingly either developed a lot of fear in us or drove us to be more rebellious. You see, as leaders, we must accept that we are equally human and that it is perfectly okay to be soft, kind, empathetic, relatable and likeable. Likability is a trait we must all have as leaders. We must have personalities that are welcoming. No, you must not necessarily be an extrovert to be likeable. You should simply be authentic, open and warm.
Effective leadership is a craft that can be learnt. Although the space of work is experiencing a fast disruption with the rise of innovation and the influence of the digital age, I believe leadership will always remain key. Here are 4 keys that can teach you skills to craft effective leadership
1. DESIGN YOU
All great things must be carefully thought of and designed. To be a great leader and to polish the craft, you must take yourself as seriously as any project you are being paid to work on. You are unique and your personality thought process and emotions cannot be replicated. And to be at your peak performance and draw the necessary influence, you must design you. Design yourself to see the possibilities in yourself and your business and position yourself to take up those opportunities. This must begin with changing your psychology as a leader. Assess your beliefs, create new ones and get into new habits.
PEOPLE POWER Our various spaces have evolved from brick and mortar to borderless or virtual but one key constant is the human touch. It has now become critical for us to get to the ‘heart of things’. People want things to stay exactly as they were. As leaders, helping our people to confront the inevitability of change, failure and disruption with confidence and enthusiasm are critical. As leaders, we need to be in constant connection with our people intelligence to enable us to leverage each and everyone’s learnings for collaborative growth. People are the pillars we lean on, they are the voices that speak on our behalf, they are the thoughts that challenge us and they are the strength of our network. People are the breath of our brand. In all we do, we must LOVE our people.
3. MEET GREAT EXPECTATIONS
Leadership is all about execution. Brace yourself to be up to the task. Whatever challenges your business may be experiencing, as a leader you always have a choice of leading your people to victory. Your body communication and the state of your mind can always be sensed by your people. So, train yourself to be in a peak state. It’s all about emotional intelligence. The culture of your business and the practices of your followers is highly influenced by you as a leader. Much is expected of you as a leader and the challenge isn’t being a perfect leader. It is being the best version of yourself through the faces of challenges.
4. RELEARN THE CRAFT
Leadership isn’t confined in a position. It is a state of being. It is so crucial that as leaders, we continue to learn and relearn things. We must continue to learn about ourselves but more importantly, we must pay attention and learn about our people. The craft of leadership is a skill of influence. Your focus must be heavy on constantly learning what influences people so we can influence them. “If you are going to change anything, you must become a student of actually works.” – Tony Robbins. Do not be at all afraid of failing or being wrong. To connect with what actually works, you will have to fail a lot of times but you will learn so much.
Yes, leadership is a craft and it can be learnt. To be as extraordinary as Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Oprah Winfrey or any of the other great leaders you look up to you must simply learn how to influence people, including their thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Be strategic in your communication with your people. Passionate and effective communication is the only way you’ll be able to bring energy to inspire people to do something beyond the norm – to do something extraordinary. And never stop educating yourself because to bring about change, we must constantly be aware of everything that’s changing.
Are you ready for TRANSFORMATION?
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo: The H.E.L.P. Coach
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo is a Personal Impact, Professional Growth and Influence Expert specializing in Humanness, Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Power – H.E.L.P.
A career spanning over two decades, she has established herself as a Certified High Performance Coach, Speaker, Author, Wellness Expert and award-winning Entrepreneur with a clientele ranging from C-Suite Executives, Senior Management, Practitioners and Sales Leaders spanning 3 continents.
She is the Founder of Dzigbordi K. Dosoo (DKD) Holdings; a premier lifestyle business group with brand subsidiaries that include Dzigbordi Consulting Group& Allure Africa.
She is one of the most decorated female entrepreneurs in Ghana having being named “CIMG Marketing Woman of the Year” in 2009; “Top 10 most respected CEOs in Ghana, 2012; Global Heart of Leadership Award and, Women Rising “100 Most Influential Ghanaian Women”, 2017. She has also been featured on CNN.
She can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org and @dzigbordi across all social media platforms.