Effective leadership can have drastic positive impacts on the success of a business and the satisfaction of its employees. Meaghan Wolf, Business Leader at Wolf & Turner Travel Associates in Blackburn, Victoria, shares her practical tips on becoming an effective leader.
Today’s business landscape is evolving at unprecedented speeds in both technology and ideas. To stay ahead, organisations must be open to new leadership styles.
The modern leader should be someone who is invested and highly motivated to consistently influence and inspire the people around them. They should see their role as collaborative and have a genuine desire for a greater good.
One of the best mentors I’ve had held a vision for what my business could become that was unlike anything I had experienced before. It challenged me to evolve from past institutionalised thinking into a true entrepreneur. By releasing the shackles, I was able to think outside the square, try new ideas and dream big.
Leadership has many forms. Leaders can integrate themselves within their teams as an active participant in daily operations, or adopt a top-down view with a more directive approach. Either way, you must have the willingness to do whatever it takes to keep the ship on track.
To be the most effective leader, it’s essential to have a deeper understanding of the people you’re trying to engage. This requires ‘time in the trenches’ to get a true representation of the challenges and motivations of a team. The cost of this, however, is finding enough time to dream, create and strategise.
A broader top-down view gives you greater opportunity to plan and create but implementing an idea without consulting or understanding how team members could be impacted can create the need for a lot of additional communication.
Effective communication is the cornerstone of strong leadership. Speak from the heart, be vulnerable and let people know you are human. Understand your audience and where they currently sit with the topic you are speaking about and use humour and stories to highlight key messages. If you’re looking for a great example, take a look at TED talks, which demonstrate really well how to deliver complex content in an engaging manner. After all, presenters sometimes take as many as 9 months to write, rewrite and practise their talks.
Workshops are a great way to explore new concepts and test your skills in a supportive like-minded environment.
Leadership training can also come in varied forms. It’s not just in the form of spending a typical two full days off-site. A 90-minute business meeting with another leader or even a 20-minute TED talk can be the catalyst to change your thinking and give you the confidence to try a new approach.
I’ve been lucky enough to have been afforded countless opportunities during my time at Flight Centre Travel Group. Of course they haven’t all been ideal in either timing or function, but I have never let fear or doubt cloud my assessment for a role or position.
In particular, after nearly eleven years with the company I had the opportunity to become my own business leader - hence the name, ‘Wolf & Turner’ Travel Associates - because it’s my own office! It’s an amazing feeling of pride knowing that Flight Centre backed me and my vision, allowing me the opportunity to really run an autonomous business under the Travel Associates brand.
Having Wolf & Turner has meant that I’ve had to draw on what I’ve learnt in all of my working life, avoid things I didn't want to do or be, but also try to recreate things that worked for me with other leaders who I’ve worked within the past, in and out of the travel industry.
I’ve learnt from experience that there’s no medal for rushing the leadership journey – you need to understand as much of the industry as you can for own benefit, before being able to juggle helping others too. Getting a true understanding of my ‘why’, my own goals and vision, has ensured that with every decision I make, I’m able to step forward confidently.
At Flight Centre Travel Group, we live and breathe our number one philosophy - our people.
Our culture is dedicated to looking after people at every stage of their experience with us. It is at the core of our company and is infused into every aspect of it.