If you look around your office, how many effective leaders do you see? How many people can you honestly say you would follow down a path because you believe they could help you blossom in your career? Are there leaders that you feel are trustworthy and deserving of your support? These are tough questions but for a leader to gain followers, it is critical to be authentic and empathetic when connecting with others. It is also important to be sincere in the way you communicate, and specifically how you choose to listen to others. One way to get a handle on how well you are leading is to ask yourself some key questions:
- How successful are my interactions with people I see every day? When we connect with others in a positive way, we can sense that people want to spend time with us and share their ideas and suggestions with us. If people seem to be busy or preoccupied when we approach them, maybe we need to evaluate how we are coming across.
- When I am in a conversation, do I actually listen to what the other person has to say? Although this may seem obvious, sometimes we are so enthusiastic about sharing our point of view that we forget to actively listen to the other person’s opinions. Remember that a conversation involves a two-way communication and that means both leader and follower need to be open to listen. A leader might actually learn some important facts or concerns if they listen with the intent to understand.
- Do I spend time coaching others to reach their potential? Many times when I work with leaders in organizations, the topic of helping others grow or learn new skills is questioned. A leader might say, “Why should I develop someone when they might become stronger than me in a knowledge area? That might put my job on the line.” To that we say, “Hogwash”! By coaching others to be more proficient and accomplished, only makes the leader look better and more knowledgeable. If your team does well, the leader of that team shines even more! Additionally, if you become a leader that is recognized to mentor others so they will achieve, then people will flock to be on your team.
- Do I model ethical leadership? In our pressurized work environments, it can sometimes be easier to ignore values to get things accomplished in a quicker fashion. But how much quicker and at what cost to others and to our organizations? Great leaders take the time to first understand what values are most important to them and then secondly make sure those values drive all their decision making. Take some time to write out what is most important to you and your organization. Then ask yourself how those values can be integrated into your daily routines and choices you make.
Where are the true leaders? What are you doing to make your leadership purposeful?