Taking your leadership from good to great

Taking your leadership from good to great


This year has been an interesting one. 

It’s probably been one of the most challenging for leaders since Covid-19, and even more challenging for the new generation of leaders who would have just stepped into management at the beginning of this year.

I’m sure a lot of seasoned managers will agree that the years post-Covid (2021 and 2022) were generally good years for the recruitment industry. 

Of course, challenges would have arisen in this period, but the market generally being stable (and in some instances, booming) meant that leadership teams didn’t have to endure complex situations and challenging decision-making. 

2023, however, was a completely different kettle of fish.

I’ve spoken to many recruitment business owners over the past year, and leadership teams have faced a lot of adversity: lay-offs, unmotivated staff, and economic downturn have all been difficult areas to navigate.

However, it’s the toughest years that test leaders and push them to be the best version of themselves.

Let’s unpack the 5 key ways that you can take your leadership techniques from good, to great.


1 | It’s time to double down on your empathy

A good leader should already be demonstrating empathy on a day-to-day basis. 

Whether it’s helping to uplift someone if they’ve had a difficult day, or helping to resolve conflict neutrally, empathy is an important skill that must be honed. 

Great leadership is completely rooted in empathy.

If you’re able to build an empathetic connection with your team, you’ll be able to foster better trust, build stronger relationships, and create an environment where employees feel valued and heard. 

In difficult times, empathy is the one thing that you can control and rely on.



2 | Approach decision-making with nuance as opposed to knee-jerk reactions 

Along with empathy, great leaders should be able to approach decision-making with nuance at its core. 

Knee-jerk reactions are inevitable - we will all make at least one in our lives which will go wrong. 

However, great leaders who are experienced and deeply care about their team will carefully approach their decision-making.

Careful doesn’t equal slow, either. 

In recruitment, we’re used to the pace of the job on a day-to-day basis: calling for BD, getting deals over the line - we’re in a sales environment at the end of the day.

However, the speed and agility that you have when building a 360 desk shouldn’t necessarily be applied to leadership. 

I’ve spoken to many leaders this year who have made quick decisions based on their sales brain rather than their leadership brain, which is another difficulty that leaders can be faced with. 

Especially if you’re a billing manager, you’ll find that you’re switching between these two personas more often than not.

Great managers will be able to decipher what kind of pace they need to apply to their decision-making, and they should treat each decision as a new situation which requires analysis and thought before making that decision. 


How can you start to do more of this?

Look at different decision-making frameworks online.

There are some great options here that you can use as examples to start you off. You can then tailor and amend as you see fit. 


3 | Focus on the longevity of your team

Great leaders really take the time to look at succession planning within their teams. 

Whether you have two consultants or ten, you have to ensure that you’re spending enough time looking at the team’s strategy. 

Who will be promoted? Are they on track? Who is performing? Who isn’t? What are you going to do as a leader to ensure that they get there?

A good leader is someone well-versed in motivation and getting people “over the line” with targets and tasks. A great leader is someone who is truly invested in the longevity of the team - and creates personalised plans for team members so they know how to succeed.


How can you start to do more of this?

Start succession planning and have more open conversations with your team about the longevity you want for them. 

Ensure that this is factored into conversations on a monthly basis - not just a quarterly PDP.


4) Don’t create an echo chamber of opinions

Particularly for leaders who didn’t have a team pre-2021, it can be easy to seek the opinions of other leaders who have had the same journey as you. 

In some respects, this can be a huge positive - as you have a shared experience which is unique to previous years. 

However, talking to people who all share the same opinion as you or validate what you’re doing as right (because they also don’t know any different). 

That’s when you’ll struggle to break that barrier of good leadership to great leadership. 

You want to get opinions from people who will challenge you, who are more experienced than you, and won’t just validate what you’re doing for the sake of it. 

It’s very easily done - especially within agencies who have organic growth models. 

If you have no one within the four walls of your organisation bringing different thoughts and processes in, it just becomes an echo chamber of opinions where no one is truly listening to each other. 


How can you start to do more of this?

A great way to broaden the conversations you’re having is to have external peer-level conversations. 

Whether this is someone who is three or four years ahead of you at another agency or even a peer in a different industry - seek guidance from those who are outside of the four walls of your organisation.


5 | You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.

Great leaders create systems that enable them to lead despite how busy they get.

We have all been there when our managers pushed our one-to-ones back because they were too busy, and it doesn’t feel great.

This is why you will hear great leaders talk about how they set their team up each week to be managed, daily stand-ups, weekly sales meetings, OKRs, one-on-ones, and monthly performance reviews. 

Whatever you do, you need to ensure you have a system.

We love Andrew Sillitoe's leadership system; Bench Coach Daily, Train Weekly, Mentor Monthly (Taken From His Player Coach Book)

To get even more inspiration on what your leadership systems could look like, here are two successful billing leaders breaking down how they set their team up for success and drive high performance.

Oliver Perry, Sales Director at Trust In Soda, breaks down his weekly leadership meeting cadence

Lewis Gadsdon, Associate Director at Wiser Elite, breaks down his weekly leadership meeting cadence


How can you implement this?

Decide on what type of leadership cadence you think would work best for your team, and then collaborate with your team to decide on what everyone thinks would work best. Then get it in your diaries and commit to making these meetings non-negotiable to attend!