Over the years, I’ve met and worked with many allied health business owners who are amazing managers. What I mean by this is they are good at the operational day-to-day stuff.
However, they lose staff, gain staff and have plenty of challenges on the team leadership side of things, and so their business is compromised.
That’s where it would pay to be a leader, rather than a manager. Management and leadership require a very different skill set, so today I want to talk about amplifying your leadership skills to get the most from your team and your business.
What it means to be a ‘change agent’
Take a moment to think about what your definition of leadership is. Write it down if you can. For me, it’s a full gamut of definitions; leaders are change agents. They are often very visionary, very future focused, and more strategic than managers.
Remember, managers are a bit more operational. Leaders are motivational and have an inspirational quality to them – they’re innovative, creative, and they strive to empower others.
Here are a couple of other leadership definitions for your consideration:
Dawson and McDonald 2015, by Persona Global – “Leadership is the capacity to influence others to take appropriate actions.”
Brené Brown, author of Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts – “I define a leader as anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people, and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential.”
Developing your leadership capability
There are many factors I’ve seen that can really help a business owner develop leadership confidence, but I’d say there are three main accelerators. These are core confidence, optimistic culture, and intentional communication.
You may have read about the notion of bulletproof confidence. I think that’s a little harsh, and actually quite unhelpful. Bulletproof confidence implies that you might be wearing armour, and that suggestion, feedback, criticism, or conversation may hit your armour, and bounce straight off.
However, core confidence is the ability to listen to complaints, comments, criticisms, questions, and feedback. The key is to let these things permeate your thinking, giving you the opportunity to be transparent, reflective, and vulnerable.
This core confidence is the ability to step in and embrace it, to be able to sit in discomfort and have the necessary tough conversations that might be needed. This will not only promote yourself as a person, but also promote your business and team performance, too.
To me, core confidence is also about having that personal clarity about what you do, and why you do it. With this, you are calm and confident, and can articulate your message and share your values across your team, your business and your customer focus.
How do you define the culture in your workplace or business? Culture is critical to the success of any allied health business so it’s important to build and maintain an optimistic culture.
I encourage you to think about your culture – how does it show up online, on your website, on social media, on LinkedIn? How does your business culture show up in your documents, in your conversation, in your one-on-ones, in your performance development opportunities?
If it’s not showing up the way you want it to, that’s okay, it just needs a bit of your business love. It’s important to think about how you want the culture to be, and more importantly, how you want it to be perceived. What is it you might need to be doing to make sure that organisational culture stays in place?
A good place to start when preparing to improve your culture is your team. Ask them what they think your culture is and what they want it to be. From there you can work together to make it happen.
I understand allied health business owners are busy and that communication can get a little patchy at times. But, it’s essential you’re able to realise when it’s going a little awry, and what you can do to fix it.
Think about how communication works in your business, both inside and outside. So think about internal and external phone calls, emails, reports, letters, social media, etc. Is it clear in all of your communications that your beliefs are identified? Do you have a guide in terms of the language that is used both in-house and for communications going from in-house to out to the external world?
As the manager, you should know what policies and procedures are needed. Better still, you should know the beliefs needed for how you communicate during one-on-one conversations.
What does your communication look like when you’re sending information out to everybody in the business, or when you’re contacting and communicating with specific groups within your business?
The other thing to think about is having a regular rhythm to when your communications are sent out, and whether you need an in-house noticeboard or newsletter. Would this even be helpful?
It might sound like a fair bit of work, but stepping back and looking at how communication works in-house will do wonders for your business and your leadership skills.
Extra resources for your leadership skills
As well as the three accelerators I’ve read about, heard and witnessed, there are a couple of other interesting sources I think could be of help.
Travis Bradbury is one of the thought leaders in the emotional intelligence space. He has written a couple books, including Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and is very active on LinkedIn and social media. It may be an interesting read for you to draw on his wisdom and add that to your leadership toolbox.
Another author and coach who could help amplify your skillset is David Rock. His book Quiet Leadership: Six Steps to Transforming Performance at Work, is somewhat dense, but very detailed. His other book, The Scarf Model, pops up in coaching and leadership commentary quite a lot as well.
I’m a big fan of Simon Sinek too and I think anything from him is well worth listening to, watching, or reading. He’s particularly prolific on YouTube and TED talks. Finally, Jim Collins’ book Good to Great is another great read.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to not let your leadership skills get too dusty. They are a critical part of running a really successful allied health business.
I encourage you to develop your own definition of leadership, and to gather some business intelligence from other people as well.