Is your swan the right way up?

No two workplaces are alike. A workplace is a unique blend of the people engaged in the work, the nature of the activities being done, the location, the style and design of the physical space, the culture of the organization and many other factors. Some are calm and have an almost academic feel, whilst others are full of activity and seem frenzied in comparison.

Within each type of workplace, we also see a range of personal styles and, subconsciously at least, make judgements about the effectiveness of an operation based on the characteristics displayed by its leader.

There is no single, failsafe recipe to follow to become a successful leader, but a description of a successful leader will, most likely, include words and phrases such as: calm; in-control; handles pressure well; knows the business inside out; delivers results; etc.

Our mental picture of a successful leader is that of a swan gracefully swimming across the water, achieving their goals whilst effortlessly gliding through the issues and stresses that drag ‘lessor mortals’ down.

It is interesting to note that a leader might be viewed as more successful than an equally performing peer, based largely on their ‘Swan-like’ appearance.

Two swans on a lake.

If we looked at two, equally performing, leaders, we might even know that they (and their teams) work equally hard, but one projects a calm exterior and presents only the results that specific stakeholders are interested in and presents them in a manner that is easily digestible by that particular audience, whereas the other presents the same information but within a cloud of other data highlighting the internal machinations of their group, the problems and issues they’ve faced and the struggles and efforts they have been through.

Its as if the second leader has their head in the water and all we can see is their legs flailing about in a frantic attempt to make progress!

Both get across the water within the required time, but one is calm and appears in control and the other is exhausted and makes everyone else feel the pain of their journey.

Successful leadership is about more than getting the required results. Successful leaders understand the importance of communication. Giving the myriad of stakeholders the information they need, in a manner they can readily digest, at the appropriate time, in the appropriate place.

No matter what style of working environment you’re in, make sure your swan is the right way up and your success isn’t hidden behind the frantic flailing of your webbed feet!

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