Core leadership principles to help your team explore unchartered territories
Leadership in the new millennium is unquestionably complex and evolving. Leaders must rapidly respond and react in an environment that is constantly changing – new technology, new generations in the workforce and new ways of working.
Growing up, I was a Star Trek fan. Let’s be honest, I still am. When I think back to all the captains of the Starship Enterprises, they all have qualities that enabled them to lead a team into uncharted territories – to boldly go where no one had gone before. They were truly discovering the universe with only their team and technology to face the unknown worlds. As leaders in the IT industry, we face the same challenge – exploring and discovering new worlds and relying on our crew and technology to achieve our outcomes.
I have had the privilege of working with CEOs and leaders across the IT industry, and some of them have had a profound impact on my own personal leadership approach. These are the core principles I have adopted and believe will stand the test of time and conditions:
- Alignment. The concept of “Expectation Alignment” was first introduced to me by Sean Collins and Jo Bowyer. In their session at NSW Leaders, they had us take a deep dive into what alignment is, what it feels like and how we can confirm we have it with our teams. Whilst this sounds like a simple exercise, it made me hyper aware that when I miscommunicate or don’t get alignment with my team, we are instantly heading off into different directions. Clarity is key to team alignment, and it is our job as leaders to create the vision and roadmap to success.
- Authentic leadership. Great leaders understand the value of being authentic to their own moral compass, their values and ethics. When making decisions, I leverage my “True North” and use these principles to guide me in times of uncertainty. In the end, to be authentic we may need to walk away from some business opportunities because they do not align with our moral compass.
- Growth mindset. For leaders to evolve and adapt in this ever-changing landscape, we need to have a growth mindset – one that is open to new ideas, opinions and change. For me, this has included a new depth and breadth of reading, podcasts and research into future trends. I always encourage my team to do the same – study and focus on professional and personal development – even if it takes them away from their core jobs at times.
- Embrace technology. Technology is rapidly expanding into new areas of business. Now we can even collect data on our people, how they like to work, and truly get into their minds to understand how best we can help them grow and develop. Previously, I had to manage this with my gut instinct. Now, through the power of psychometric testing, we are better able to understand teams in more depth, find out what makes them tick and how to make strategic people decisions when it comes to new roles and growth for business.
The most effective leaders are those with a vision, who know where they are heading and know how to take their teams along with them. Articulating this sense of purpose enables distributed teams to operate autonomously while providing the glue to create a cohesive organisation. Effective leaders draw around them people who have the skills they don’t, unafraid of sourcing talent that they themselves may not have. They are willing to listen to all ideas at the table and then navigate their teams and companies into a new and exciting future.