How do you maintain strong leadership skills, even when you’re busy?

Endaba Group

“Leadership is the art of leading others to deliberately create a result that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.”

However, it’s not just the creation of results that makes good leadership. Good leaders are able to deliberately create results by enlisting the help of others and good leadership is essential to business success. In today’s demanding workplace leaders are often leading multiple projects across multi-functioning teams and are expected to deliver multiple results simultaneously… never have business leaders been so busy or their time so demanded of!  Knowing what a significant success factor strong leadership is within a business, leaders need to be aware now more than ever – how to maintain their strong leadership skills even when they are busy to remain truly effective.

Endaba spoke with some uprising visionary industry leaders to ask the question; ‘how do you remain a good leader (and maintain your leadership skills), even when you’re busy! ‘’.

Below are some of their practical tips:

1. Manage expectations

The busier you are, the less time you are able to spend with your team. It’s important that you express this clearly and ensure they are happy and feel supported enough to step up to make independent decisions

Leadership tip – “During busy periods, I sit the team down and tell them they won’t have as much of my time as they’re used to and they need to step up; make proactive, commercially astute decisions without always waiting for me to sign off, knowing that I’d support them in their decision. By empowering them to work at the next level in their role, I think that shows trust which in turn builds confidence in a kind of virtuous cycle”, James Fernie, Ecommerce Director, Boux Avenue

2. Trust your team

Show trust and confidence in your team that they can deliver and do their job without full time support. It’s important to be willing to adapt, learn and relinquish control where necessary

Leadership tip – “Delegate responsibility and encourage ownership. Most people are capable of more than they think, and the exhilaration that comes with making a success of doing something beyond your comfort zone is addictive and builds a positive environment (making it an especially mutually beneficial experience!)”, Katie Baron, Head of Retail, Innovation & Insights, Stylus

3. Keep as much structure as possible

Try not to move or cancel important fixed meetings and weekly catch-ups; ensure you allocate dedicated time where the team have your whole and undivided attention

Leadership tip – “I make sure that despite key projects taking a large amount of my time, that fixed meetings stayed fixed so they aren’t completely rudderless. Some structure remains and they know that there are windows where they have my undivided attention, albeit in a shorter format”, James Fernie, Ecommerce Director, Boux Avenue

4. Give your team credit where due

It is important to ensure your team feel valued, and to give them credit for their work. A person who feels appreciated will always do more than expected!

Leadership tip – “Share the glory where and when you can. You’re only ever really as good as your team so it’s critical to give public credit – public in terms of your wider business but also in the press where relevant. In my experience that exposure actually spurs people to step up to the mark and go on to perform even better and ensures you as a result benefit also”, Katie Baron, Head of Retail, Innovation & Insights, Stylus

5. Don’t change your mind in a panic

Stay true to your vision and your overall goals. Do not make sudden changes in a panic – your team need consistency in their leadership and vision.

Leadership tip – “Do not change more things, but focus on proven routes for success and excel at delivering on those – consistently. Do not change strategy but instead be clear about your DNA and what gave your business success in the past – play to your strengths! For some businesses it will mean a new or renewed focus on areas you have come to take for granted”, Beatrice Lafon, Non-Executive Director, SuperGroup

6. Give explanations

Employees have questions, and look to leaders for the answers, so, even when you’re busy you need to find time to guide your team.

Leadership tip – “If I have one thing that I do for the team (which they have told me recently they really appreciate) is that ‘I make time to talk them through it’ at the start of a project. When you are busy it’s very easy to make decisions and give instructions without explanation or context and this can easily lead to confusion or misdirection.  By ensuring the team understand the aims of any project and their role within it they will stay on track and will remain invested in the end result as much as you”, Kate Wright, Creative Director, Notonthehighstreet.com

7. Stay calm and logical

Whilst this is always easier said than done, it is important to remain calm and focused during busy times and not lose your cool!

Leadership tip – “My main aims are to try to stay calm and have a logical approach. Stress doesn’t help either me or others in my team so I think the best way to work – and encourage effective work around me – is to set down expectations and deadlines ahead of time so everyone knows what & when we’re aiming for and who is responsible for what”, Sherida Brindle, Fashion Director, Stylist

Leadership tip – “Do not panic – be more relaxed and calm than usual so that fear does not enter into the business – the teams must remain confident in your ability to think and act correctly”, Beatrice Lafon, Non-Executive Director, SuperGroup

8. Even when time is pressured don’t rush

Do not rush in key decision making and always ensure decisions have been well thought through – even if it takes a little longer!

Leadership tip – “When I’m working on collaborative projects my best advice is to avoid the temptation to put ‘pen to writer’ too quickly. Let group ideas gestate, even if it feels like the clock is ticking uncomfortably. Slightly longer gestation usually means quicker, more astute decision-making afterwards”, Katie Baron, Head of Retail, Innovation & Insights, Stylus

Leadership tip – “I always ask myself the question; ‘am I driving the train or is the train driving me?’ What it allows me to do is to take a moment to stop and reflect and think about whether I’m in charge of choices and priorities or whether I’m feeling pushed to make the choices. This forces me to push back and prioritise”, David Robinson, President, Speedo

In summary what we can take from this is that great leaders need to remain self-aware, humble and know that humility is not a weakness but strength in leadership!