Finding a leadership style that inspires greatness
Leadership starts with inspiration. The two go hand-in-hand.
I believe leadership is about striving to inspire the people around you to give of their best … and for them to become the best that they can be.
But it’s very important that all of that effort is directed towards a common vision or purpose, which itself needs to be meaningful and inspirational to the people who are working with you.
The art of smart and swift decision making
It’s important for future-thinking businesses to build a culture where people are encouraged to have an opinion and that they can make a valuable contribution – all the way from formulating strategy, to the way it’s executed.
As a leader you need to spend time listening to your people and understanding their views … and then making informed decisions and being clear in how you communicate them.
In our industry which is moving so fast, speed and clarity of decision making are critical. We can’t afford to debate things endlessly. In my experience, if people have had the opportunity to make a contribution, they’ll respect the decision that’s ultimately taken and will support it.
Optimism and honesty
Inspiring people is also about carrying yourself with confidence and projecting an attitude of optimism. However, it’s important to be honest about the good and what’s working well as well as what’s not working and needs to be fixed.
I try to be open and transparent with our people about where Dimension Data is as a business. I believe we should talk openly about what we’re really good at, celebrate our achievements, and strive to build on that greatness, but we shouldn’t shy away from talking about the things that we need to improve on.
When it comes to the pinch…
Today, one of the biggest challenges facing leaders is keeping people inspired during change. My advice is to be ‘on the ground’ as much as you can. Of course it’s not possible to be present all the time, especially when you’re leading a geographically-dispersed global organisation, so you also need to delegate that authority to your leadership team.
The tougher the situation, the more important it is for leaders to be seen to be personally involved and participating. And then communicate, communicate, communicate. I don’t think leaders can over-communicate during times of change.
Give your people wings
I strongly believe in delegating authority and stretching people. In my experience, if you give people a challenge, nine times out of 10 they’ll surprise you!
Let your teams show you what they can do. Give them the freedom to think differently. And if mistakes are made along the way, well, that’s ok. Encourage people to acknowledge what went wrong and move very quickly to fix it. Don’t cultivate a culture of fear.
I believe that’s the philosophy we need to follow at Dimension Data … and it’s something that I’m passionate about driving.