I am fortunate enough to have a great team around me to support me delivering the work I do. One of my team members, Sophie, works with me to deliver the Meaning Matters Online Program and is about to move onto the Leading Women in Finance Network.
We had our weekly 1:1 this week and I had a few things on my list. She started the meeting by saying, "One of the things I wanted to talk about with you was the Meaning Matters Workbook. We haven't talked about it for awhile, but I've had a go at updating the full workbook based on the improvements we have made during the program."
Guess what? Here is the first thing I had on my list for the agenda:
I then just about fell over myself when Sophie proceeded to walk me through the workbook she had updated. She had literally read my mind and done the work in advance of me asking.
"Structure": The 5th "S" of Presence
Structure is one of my 5 "Ss" of executive presence. Structure is essentially your leadership MO - the rhythms and routines by which you lead that are evident by the people around you. Rhythms and routines are hugely beneficial: they help with your cognitive load, enable you to prioritise and manage your time, and they allow you to operate efficiently. They also provide clarity for others.
The impact of 'structure' on your team
I wrote an article titled, "Why clarity is about respect", which was inspired by an experience a client of mine had with a boss who intentionally did not create clarity because he thought 'they need to learn to lead through ambiguity'. And whilst I agree that leading through ambiguity is a critical leadership skill, I also believe that it's a leader's role to create clarity.
When a leader doesn't have structure, they are inconsistent - you never know which one is going to show up. I'm sure you have worked with one in the past. Where hours are wasted trying to figure out 'what is it going to take to get him over the line this time', and 'how does she want it to look?'. Leaders that don't have this 'structure' are not only perceived to be inconsistent by others around them, but it is often an indication that they are chaotic below the surface.
In contrast, when we have a leadership structure, our team, our peers and our stakeholders know how to engage with us. They know what to bring to us, when to bring it to us and how to bring it. Friction is reduced and you allow your team and the people around you to operate more productively. It's a bit like water running quickly through a river: do you want your team to have to raft through white water rapids, or would you prefer they have a smooth trip down?
Structure makes it easy
Make it easy for your team to work with you. Make it easy for them to deliver for you. Why not? Because it wasn't made easy for you? Because you're worried they won't have the opportunity to develop and grow? Your job is to help them grow, but not at the expense of delivery.
Fear not. Structure also means making it easy for your team to learn from you so they deliver. So they get those development opportunities. If your team are struggling to deliver as you expect, see this as an opportunity to help them learn. Tweak the way you coach them on the job and incorporate continual learning opportunities into your leadership structure.
What do you need to make easy?
Get your team to learn how to deal with ambiguity, yes, but I think these times are ambiguous enough. Don't be the leader that unintentionally adds to the already turbulent waters.
Commit to some structure in your leadership presence and watch your team thrive. They might even read your mind.
Love to hear your thoughts...what do you think?