Sam North, founder of Inflection Point Coaching & Consulting, explores the new styles of leadership needed (most of the time) in today’s challenging world.
Events are a melting pot of excitement, anticipation and tight deadlines, and its leaders are required to instruct quickly and clearly in high-pressure environments. Sometimes you just have to decide – A or B. Yes or No.
Being onsite is the perfect example of this situation – firefighting issues from left and right, while dealing with that exhibitor who hates the show before the doors even open means clarity and decisiveness rules. Away from delivering an event, though, there’s a compelling case for developing another leadership style.
The markets our events serve are changing faster than ever, and using a purely directive leadership style puts the boss in the position of needing to know all of the answers. Hard at the best of times, next to impossible now. Adding to this continual regeneration is an inexorable rise in customer expectations – more nuanced packages, clearer ROI, activities that fit their goals like a glove. These things all add up to needing your whole team engaged and ‘on point’ to collaborate with your clients and deliver great service.
The final driver for change is generational – your talented executives and managers just won’t stick around at a business where they aren’t on a mission that they believe in. Links between staff engagement, customer service and the resulting boost in performance as results grow are becoming clearer and clearer to the trained eye.
As well as helping event industry leaders effectively prepare for and transition to new roles, a theme in my coaching practice is helping them achieve a shift from a stressful, pressurised and often low-performing ‘command and control’ mindset into a ‘coaching culture’, which allows everyone involved to thrive and gives the leader the succession they need to achieve future goals.
It requires a real and consistent change in approach to take effect, and the key steps are:
Delegate: Early and clearly, even when it feels easier/faster to keep it to yourself
Shift ownership: Asking questions – ‘so, remind me what the goal is?’ and ‘what’s my role in helping you achieve this?’ should help
Check in, don’t jump in: There may be missteps but keep at it – questions like ‘what have you tried already’, ‘what needs to happen next?’ or ‘what do you need from me?’ will keep you on track and you’ll be amazed what you learn too
Commit: Keep at it. It’s not an overnight fix (sorry) but the more you work at it the more you will get back – again, if they’re up to it
I won’t lie to you; you will have to invest time and effort to get the ball rolling, which may seem daunting at first and hard to stick to before the results come – but it’s always far more enjoyable and effective than my clients initially imagine.
And the facts don’t lie. According to a 2018 study by PwC, shifting to a coaching culture leads to these big wins:
16 per cent profitability uplift
44 per cent boost in staff productivity
31 per cent greater ability to execute large scale strategic change
77 per cent higher employee engagement scores
64 per cent more employees ready for promotion to senior leadership
70 per cent rise in retention of high performers
51 per cent higher employee of choice
So, by all means – direct, instruct and command when the moment calls for it, but driving this shift outside of those times will keep you future fit. Are you up for the challenge?