Keeping Up With The Latest Leadership Trends – Three Questions Aspiring Leaders Need To Ask Themselves
In today’s world of the post information super highway, how does an aspiring leader, or an established leader for that matter, keep up with the latest leadership trends without getting lost in all the information that is available at their fingertips?
For aspiring leaders, discerning what to read, watch or listen to is just as important as the key decisions you make. To assist you work out the type of information delivery system that suits you, there are three questions you need to answer:
How Do I Learn?
A key to understanding ourselves is to work out how we learn
To learn is the process of how you take in information and then use it to build on the knowledge and skills you currently have. Is it through: classical conditioning by association (e.g. think Pavlov’s dog)? or is it by operant conditioning (positive reinforcement or punishment)? or perhaps it is through observation (something you have seen, heard or noticed)?
Apart from the classical methods of learning there is also social learning. Simply put: how we learn from and about other people (Frontiers for Young Minds, 2020)
Once you understand how you learn, you can then decide on the best way to receive leadership information and resources. For example, my primary method of learning is by observation. I am a voracious reader and can retain vast amounts of information. I also listen to the radio in the car: sports talk back, interviews, news items of interest. However, I’m not a big fan of podcasts, so I don’t listen to very many.
Taking my what I know about myself further, when I have something explained to me, I prefer a visual display. I cannot sit there for hours on end while someone describes what I need to know. I need to see context, for it to be interactive, and to the point. I realised early on that my success as a CEO rested on this very foundation.
Is It Important For Me To Keep Up With Leadership Trends?
The simple answer is: Yes. A good leader knows this!
A constant struggle is knowing what, or perhaps who, to keep up with. The shortest way to success with this question is to undertake the journey of “information self discovery.” In other words: do your research!
My suggestion for the aspiring leader is to “discover” four or five information sources that resonate very strongly with you based on the following delivery methods:
- Business Journals These are magazine style publications either online or in hard copy and are published weekly or monthly or even quarterly.
- Blogs There is a dearth of information within the 70 million or so blogs out there. However, a keyword search or hashtag will turn up what you are looking for.
- VBlog Some bloggers have also turned to video to impart their knowledge and wisdom. YouTube makes it easy to find who they are.
- Podcasts Recordings by industry gurus have been around for a little while now and of course they can be found on many different platforms, whether online or through a dedicated App.
- Interactive Apps This approach is very much a generational enigma. You will either get on board with what interactive apps are and how they work, or you won’t. If they are managed well by the participating team members, they are a very effective tool re information sharing and knowledge development. Think Monday.com.
- Learning Tools and Resources. There are a range of online sites that provide free resources (e.g. Businessballs) or you can have access through a paid subscription (e,g. Mindtools).
- TV Shows/Streaming Platforms Like all those cooking shows out there on a myriad of business programs for you to watch.
- Books by Business Authors Quite simply, the business leader who as a guru has published key insights in very long form or copy! Of course these days, you can get such books electronically. Although, every now and then I enjoy just browing through a bookshop to find what I am after.
My favourite sources of information based on the above list are: The Harvard Business Review (journal), MiddleMe by Kally (a blog) and key books that changed my understanding on organisational effectiveness: Ricardo Semler (Maverick), Peter M Senge (The Fifth Discipline) Karl Albrecht and Ron Zemke (Service America and its subsequent updates). Of course each author has also produced a vast ongoing series of work.
How Much Information Do I Need?
The trick is not to take on the latest fad of the week. It will drive your team nuts!
Despite how your leadership style evolves over time, there are key (core) traits you tend to keep. These are the foundation of what, or who, you are as a leader. In essence, the information, tools, skills and knowledge a leader needs should build on the foundation of their core self.
This means not trying out, on those you lead, every single suggestion you come across. If you do, you will drive them to despair, which is even more counterproductive than providing no leadership at all.
By way of explanation, many years ago, a head of department I worked alongside with was completing an MBA. Now this should have been cause for celebration. However, on those mornings when I popped over before work to visit this person’s teams, I would find them moaning and groaning. In particular, they would be complaining about how they were being subjected to the latest leadership technique covered at university the night before. It proved to be a big distraction and also demotivating.
Remember: less is more 😊
By way of contrast, my approach at that time was much more subtle. I picked out a couple of simple leadership techniques I had read about in the Havard Business Review: using thank you notes and team members holding up red cards when they wanted to speak during meetings.
Using the former example, I would stick a Post-it note in a prominent position on each team member’s desk or monitor after work on a Friday. This involved personalising each note regarding what I considered they had done well during the week.
What this meant was, by the time we got to the staff meeting on Monday morning, even the most demotivated team member was jumping out of their skin. In short, I discovered this approach had far more better results than any performance appraisal could deliver.
The challenge for you in today’s world is finding something that will work as effectively as a Post-it note did for me – then again you might just want to use them anyway – sometimes old school methods still work 😊
The Last Word
So, to conclude, once you have identified the four of five go-to leadership information sources you enjoy most, you can start looking forward to the updates they provide. Then you can begin to discover those topics that resonate very strongly with you and begin to absorb them without burning yourself out trying to read, try or watch everything that is out there…