BY David Pich FIML and photo by roy scott
One of the real privileges of leading the Institute is that I’m frequently asked to present at conferences and events. Of course, I do my very best – diary permitting – to say yes.
I have to say that the most enjoyable aspect of any presentation I deliver is almost always the Q&A session that follows. It’s an absolute pleasure to hear the views of the many and varied audiences (from association members, to teachers, to public sector workers, to MBA students) on management and leadership practice. Of course, like all presenters, I’m always a little nervous about the “curly questions” that might be thrown my way. These are usually those questions that reference specific companies or leaders with the ongoing Royal Commission into the financial services sector a very good case in point.
But the question that I always enjoy answering – and the one that I am invariably asked, albeit in a variety of slightly different guises – is “what can managers and leaders do to improve their management and leadership competence?”.
It was all the way back in late 2017, when I was asked this question at a conference in Brisbane, that I first used the term “intentional leader”. I used the word intentional to illustrate that managers really need to commit to being better and doing better. I wanted to emphasise that, in the vast majority of cases, good management practice doesn’t happen by accident. Of course, it can “just happen”. Some managers and leaders are fantastic at what they do because it comes naturally to them. For them (the lucky ones!) management is an effortless breeze.
Unfortunately, the reality is that the lucky ones are not the norm. They are the tiny minority. Just as the athlete who breezes effortlessly into the first team or who runs a sub-three-hour marathon with next to no training are the tiny minority, so the leader who leads well from day one is a very rare occurrence. For the rest of us – mere mortals – competence and good performance are a result of hours, days, weeks, months and years of practice. Improvement only occurs because we commit to being better. And that commitment is about intent.
Just as organisations need a vision and a strategy to head towards that vision, managers and leaders need a vision of who they want to be and how they want to manage and lead – and they need a strategy that will take them there.
So, when I get asked what leaders can do to be better, I refer to what IML calls “the six layers of intentional leadership”.
These are six practical things that managers and leaders
can do to improve.
The six layers of intentional leadership
1. Listen and ask questions. Leaders speak last
2. Find a mentor
3. Commit to self-awareness
4. Think before you act. Find time to make decisions
5. Commit to professional development
And finally, the all-important (and yet so often forgotten) seventh layer; good leaders learn to say “thank-you”.
BY David Pich FIML, chief executive of the Institute
of Managers and Leaders
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