After working as an executive leadership coach for over a decade, Lisa Moricz picked up on a pattern – she was being brought in by boards and directors when the people were already broken.
Rather than trying to break old behaviours, Lisa – the Director of Umana Group Pty Ltd – is now looking towards our young leaders, providing them with behaviours they can nurture and grow as they evolve into leadership positions.
“It took quite a long time for me to get my clients out of their current behaviours and mindsets,” Lisa says. “Trying to unteach learnt behaviours and redirect them onto the right path to lead effectively was a time-consuming process.
“Now I focus my energy towards young people, while still working hand-in-hand with experienced leaders, allowing leadership skills to be sharpened and advanced from the beginning of their careers.”
Lisa recently joined us at the Brisbane Business Hub to speak to the future leaders of the Brisbane business community, in an interactive session focusing on emotional intelligence, the alignment of culture and values, and the secrets to fostering a strong work environment.
For those who couldn’t be there, here are her key takeaways.
Soft skills, such as emotional intelligence, are becoming more sought after than the traditional technical skills. While each plays their own unique role, Lisa says strong emotional intelligence is what sets successful leaders apart.
She says there are five keys to developing and utilising emotional intelligence.
Take care of you and get to know who you are first
Being self-aware allows for the ability to not only recognise and understand your own emotions, but to be cognisant of the impact they have on your actions, moods, behaviours and responses.
Leadership is about setting an example for your team. They will look to you to set the tone of the day and will mimic your behaviours, whether positive or negative.
“A big part of being self-aware is understanding who you are at your core,” Lisa says. “You need to discover what motivates you, what gets you hooked and what fires you up to understand why you behave in the way you do.
“If you’ve had a bad morning and by the time you get to work you’re frustrated and on-edge, you can bring these emotions into the workplace – impacting not only your own performance, but the performance of your team.”
In order to mitigate this and lead effectively and impactfully, Lisa says you need to take this self-awareness and turn it into self-regulation.
“As leaders, it is important you acknowledge your emotions,” she says. “You can then use this information to create a shift in mood and mindset to ready yourself for the work day ahead.”
Personally, Lisa says she uses music and deep breathing to help shift her mindset, but she stresses that everyone needs to find what works for them.
Create a balance
When it comes to managing staff, Lisa says that empathy is about balance.
“You need to be supportive and understanding of the needs of your staff, while balancing the day-to-day running of the business,” she says.
“For instance, if someone needs unexpected time off, you can and should say yes. But you also need to check in with them regularly and stay updated on their return status.
“When something happens in their personal life, it can feel like you should just give them the time off, no questions asked. But at the end of the day, you are held accountable for the effect that has on the business operations. Communication is critical at this point, in a humanistic way of course.”
Build your network
As a leader, you should consistently be seeking out additional resources for your leadership toolkit. One such resource is a solid professional and personal network, which can be tapped into when assistance is required.
“If you work in an organisation that has several departments, build relationships with the key stakeholders in those areas that are different from yours,” Lisa says. “Start the conversation by finding out how you can work better together. This way, when you need help, you’ll already have the foundations of that relationship in place.
“This extends to your social network. It’s good to form a network across a wide variety of skill sets. Know who you can lean on for support, and how their expertise differs from yours.”
Learn how to communicate
Your communication style will drive what type of leader you are. Lisa says you can say the exact same thing twice, but changing the tone will determine the response you get. She refers to this as PRAT – People Respond As Treated.
“Your communication style is both verbal and nonverbal,” she says. “It’s how you speak, write and walk into a room.
“It’s also about recognising when to pick up the phone when communication, like an email, is getting a bit prickly.”
Lisa says you need to develop an understanding of what works for your team, and how they like to be engaged.
“In order to do this, you need to make an effort to communicate and touch base often, in a way that aligns with the communication styles of your individual team members,” she says.
“Most teams are looking for a coach – someone who will analyse their work and give them great feedback. You need to remember that feedback is harder to give than to receive, so you shouldn’t be afraid to hurt feelings. People usually just want to know how they are doing, but it is all about your delivery. Remember to be kind and helpful.
“Get into the habit of touching base regularly and providing what I call growth feedback. Talk to them about what they can do better, but also what you, as their leader, can do to facilitate that.
“During these discussions, your role is to listen and then create key takeaways and actionable items that you can utilise moving forward. It’s not enough to provide feedback or ask your staff questions – it’s what you do with the information they provide that will set you up for success.”
Don’t forget to look after you
Lisa says the hardest thing you will ever have to do in the leadership space is slow down and look after yourself.
“You are no good to anyone stretched and stressed,” she says. “If you don’t have the capacity to do something, be honest.
“There are going to be times when you have to nurture yourself. If you don’t look after you, then how are you going to look after your team?”
Know the importance of values and culture
Lisa says many businesses make the mistake of treating their values as a ‘set and forget’ proposition.
“I’ve been in organisations where I have removed the values from the wall because the team didn’t live by them,” she says. “We returned them when the team understood their importance. Through this, we watched the team come together on the same page to engage better and create business profitability.
“Values can’t be valuable unless they are being utilised consistently throughout the business. You and your team have to live and breathe those values. They become part of your DNA. The result should be an increase in revenue and an increase in the retention of good staff.
“Once the values of the company are understood, you should talk to your team and see how their work aligns with the company values. This can be a guiding light and point of reference to bring them back when they get off track.”
Lisa says there’s also strength in knowing your own personal values, and understanding how those values align with the values of the organisation.
“Having this alignment is the pathway to success,” she says. “Your values are your roadmap.”
Ultimately, Lisa says culture is the number one reason people will take – and stay at – a job.
“Staff want to know what they are walking into,” she says. “Is it a fun culture? A learning culture? A vulnerable culture?
“A good culture fit enables you to have great engagement with your team and helps you to retain and attract staff.
“Building your team culture comes from you. Ask yourself: What is the culture you want to have in the business that you’re within?”
Fall in love with your team
The phrase ‘our people are our greatest asset’ has become a cliche that many would instinctively roll their eyes at. Everybody says it – but, like so many cliches, everybody says it because it’s true.
“It is not enough to build beautiful buildings and spend millions of dollars on fitouts and technology,” Lisa says. “You need to invest heavily in your team, both in teaching and training them, but also in getting to know them.
“Ideally, your role as a leader should be a 70-30 split. 70 per cent is about your people and 30 per cent is about the other things you manage within your role. Begin by asking: What motivates your team? What makes them feel valued? What do they love to do? What are they great at?
“If you can create this division of time and incorporate the things your team loves into their roles, it will move mountains.”