The Most Important Question for Leaders

We've wrapped up the best insights from Dr Ken Blanchard and Marshall Goldsmith, two of the most prominent management gurus in the world...

When you think about your leadership development, it's hard to know where to start. Should you focus on your style? Or should your main concern be results? Dr Ken Blanchard, one of the leading gurus in the field of leadership, starts with one simple question:

Do you help others?

When he spoke for London Business Forum in 2017, he used this question to challenge an audience of leaders and managers. He explained that how you answer that one question reflects a fundamental difference in the way you approach leadership. Here's what he means...

Ken Blanchard
Ken Blanchard speaking in 2017

Self-centred vs. Others-focused

If you believe leadership is all about you, where you want to go and what you want to achieve, then your leadership, by default, will be self-centred. On the other hand, if your leadership revolves around meeting the needs of the organisation and the people working for it, you will make different choices that will reveal a more ‘others-focused’ approach, partnering with your staff to inspire great performance. This leads to personal and organisational success, Ken calls it Servant Leadership.

Servant leaders

Servant leaders naturally develop their people skills; they are empathetic, good at listening and express an acute awareness of the issues affecting their organisation. You might say they have superior emotional intelligence.

A servant leader operates at a huge advantage, particularly when it comes to influence. When you support the people around you - be that colleagues, customers and communities –they start believing in you. They will trust you. They will help you in return.

A servant leader operates at a huge advantage, particularly when it comes to influence.

Marshall Goldsmith
Marshall Goldsmith speaking in 2020

There’s another question to ask…

Marshall Goldsmith, author of ‘What Got you Here, Won’t Get you There’ and one of the top leadership gurus in the world, asks leaders this question: ‘What are your habits?’.  

He encourages self-reflection on a regular basis; in the long run it allows you to be far more effective. In fact, if reflection is ‘built-in’ to the way we lead, then it means we can pick up on things that aren’t working and fix them before they even become a habit.

Self-awareness is the key.

Both gurus are inspiring us to be self-aware and conscious of how we impact the people around us. As a leader, someone who manages people and brings out the best in them, we have to know our power and most importantly, how to effectively use it. If you attend London Business Forum events then you’re already doing this. You’re already thinking about your leadership.

Leadership development is a continual process; however, as Blanchard and Goldsmith both explain, leadership is also a mindset. We would all do well to remain open-minded and aware of the people around us if we want to get the backing and support we need to succeed.

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