Leadership plays a critical role in many facets of business and politics. We’ve seen plenty of good and bad examples of leadership in the news recently, especially in the lead up to the Federal Election here in Australia.
We recently welcomed Jay Guildford onto the It’s More Than Money podcast to learn more about leadership. Jay is famous for his leadership training program called SPARK with Cirque du Solei, and he has consulted for many big-name corporate teams, including MGM Resorts International, Microsoft, Mastercard, Google and Uber. During our chat, we discussed some eye-opening ideas for leaders to become better at communicating authenticity and leading by example.
At the beginning of the podcast, Jay pointed out that the literature available online tells what you need to do and not how you should go about doing it. The main idea of leadership today is that leaders want people to like them. He referred to this as the “cool mum complex” regarding how Amy Poehler’s character in Mean Girls focuses more on being a “cool mum” rather than an authoritative leader of her family.
Similarly, leaders tend to make decisions that are likely to please others instead of delivering a real impact. It holds back many leaders since they want people to like them, resulting in avoiding discussing any critical elements or difficult feedback. Keep on reading for the top tips Jay has discovered to improve your leadership style.
As a leader, you need to take the middle road between being liked by your employees and being someone who can inspire growth and push them in the right direction when mistakes are made. Jay explains that everyone has an innate want to be liked by those around them, but that is not what your job description says. The ideal approach is to leave the emotions out of your job and ensure that leaders communicate the feedback properly to their subordinates.
To do this effectively, it’s essential to put it in the correct tone to communicate the goals. It should be more about incentivising and envisioning the results to guide people in the right direction. It also goes both ways since leaders must allow space for employees to provide feedback on their experiences at work in order for the leader and leadership team to improve.
Jay pointed out how leaders need to open themselves to feedback. He noted how leaders should take advice from employees on things they can make better, creating a two-way street for growth and a sense of authenticity in the employer-employee relationship. This acknowledgment is imperative as it tells employees that they matter and leaders will listen to them.
One of the vital essences of creativity is humility. Jay says leaders should be humble since it opens up the door for creativity and innovation. It is about helping people bring new ideas to the table, and for that, a leader must be humble. As a leader, you have to accept that there are people who can do things better than you. Jay added how Steve Jobs was an exceptional leader, but he needed to hire better programmers than him to help create the iPhone. There will always be people better than you at a particular task, and they will come forward if you let go of your ego.
Keeping the spirit of competition is imperative, but the challenge is doing this without competition. It should be how leaders can engage their employees to perform in a way that they would when competing with others. This spirit can instil a sense of drive and motivation on an individual level, but the trick is to integrate the team for seamless collaboration and broad contribution. Jay discusses this regarding gymnasts, who come from a background of individualist performance and then are brought into the Cirque du Solei team. Here, they need to work with other gymnasts and acrobats to create a holistic performance as a group.
Successful leaders should hire people who align with their purpose instead of people who are just there for the money. The best way to employ such people is by asking what they are passionate about and seeing if there’s an alignment. One of the things that leaders need to do is be different from others, like the leaders of Netflix and Uber. These leaders believed in their vision and did not hesitate to create clear plans with a sense of purpose to bring a massive change. If you’d like to hear more from Jay Guilford and discover more of his brilliant insights, listen to our whole podcast episode of It’s More Than Money.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your personal circumstances, financial needs or objectives. Before acting on any of the information you should consider the appropriateness of the relevant product having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. In particular, you should seek independent financial advice and read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement or other offer document prior to acting on any financial product or implementing any financial strategy.
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