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The Consultancy Growth Network

What is it like to be led by you?

An essential ingredient for building a high performance consulting firm is defining a set of effective leadership principles. Effective leadership is a differentiator on the battlefield and is a topic that is of strong interest for many of our members. Nevertheless, many owners of consulting firms don’t spend significant amounts of time reflecting on what it is to be led by them.

So we invited Martin Coburn, leadership facilitator, director and coach to encourage them to do just that. Martin is founding director of Natural Direction, which designs and delivers high impact leadership, culture change and communication programmes across a range of sectors. Martin’s webinar was interactive and asked attendees to complete a variety of exercises to consider their leadership capabilities.

Here are a few samples of what Martin shared with our members during his session.

Reflecting on your leadership capabilities

Martin started off by asking attendees three questions to consider the gap between their perceived and actual leadership capabilities:

  1. When was the last time you thought about your reputation?
  2. Do you really know what it is like to be led by you?
  3. What demands are you making on yourself to improve?

What’s it like to be led by you?

The audience was then asked to consider a situation where they are being picked for a team. In doing so, they were asked to consider the reasons why they may be picked and the potential reservations someone may have about picking them. The key to this exercise was to understand what establishes their authentic personal leadership model.

Martin pointed out that others’ feedback mainly revolves around who you are being while you are doing and knowing. This will be particularly tested during turbulent times where perceptions of your leadership style can be impacted by shadow behaviors. Martin conducted an exercise which exemplifies how the perception gap can unexpectedly increase as others get less exposure to you, which is typically the case as you become more senior.

Great leadership makes a difference, but what consitutes it?

Next Martin highlighted the importance of understanding where you can be an extraordinary leader. The key question many have is on the potential return on investing in becoming extraordinary. He showed data that highlights the kicker in the returns from developing leaders in the top 20% of their industry – great leadership makes a great difference.

The 16 competencies that differentiate extraordinary leaders were then outlines. Martin explained that you don’t need to be good at all of them, but it is important to be good at some of them. Inspiring and motivating others to high performance was noted as being a critical competency. Although, said Martin, this is typically what leaders are least good at.

The session finished with attendees getting into break out groups to discuss their leadership philosophies. There were also lots of insightful questions from attendees, which led to some interesting follow-on discussion on how to deal with specific leadership issues faced by participants. The full recording of Martin’s excellent session, along with recordings of all our events, is available to members via the Growth Hub.

Article | People and talentStrategy and leadership

Written by

Ali El Moghraby

Head of Marketing

The Consultancy Growth Network