During a recent trip through the men’s section of a trendy department store, I was struck by the metaphor titling this article. Fashion trends have clearly moved well past the basics and core fashion principles I learned as a young aspiring MBA “back in my day”.
So at the sake of giving away my age and being declared totally irrelevant, I will admit that my deeply biased and fully ingrained business fashion sense will not allow me to wear brown shoes with black, grey or navy suits. I prefer my black leather shoes with a high shine. Though I know the brown shoe phenomenon is in and has been trending, I find the look running completely counter to everything I was once taught.
This sense of fashion conflict made me think about my views on management and leadership. Was there any chance that my ideas for leading my team were stuck in black leather in a brown shoe world? Have the fundamentals that have served me well become an old style that needs a serious makeover?
Let me offer the news that even asking myself this question is key to keeping things fresh and up to date. Any feedback or prompting that generates a bit of introspection on one’s leadership skills is, in my opinion, valuable.
True leadership inspires people. As generations change, so must change the approach that is used to maintain contact, empathy, and communication within your organization. Zig Ziglar has been quoted:
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”.
If your verbal and physical communication does not change over time, there will be a serious problem communicating the caring part.
Core values can remain the same. True north remains constant, but the tools used to point us there have changed significantly as technology has evolved. We can look for better ways to connect with our team and our newest employees without compromising the core values that are needed to succeed. Enlightened leaders keep this willingness to change their management style as a constant attribute.
For those managers out there who try to stay in up to date with your wardrobe, but fail to periodically revamp your leadership style, take a look in the proverbial mirror. There are some great tips and tricks available to help you upgrade and make modifications to your approach. At a minimum, conduct some feedback sessions with your team and ask whether your style is being received well or not.