Have ever been in an organizational environment where you heard someone make an observation, “who appointed him to be in charge?” You may have also heard the statement, “Leadership is not given, it is assumed.” This statement illustrates important elements of leadership. You gain recognition as a leader by showing the way for others and by leading by example. Follow me, not do as I say.
You may have the management role with the authority but there is a difference between power and authority. As the owner or manager, you have the authority by virtue of your role. However, your power is granted by those on your team or those you supervise. Have you noticed there are always certain people who are sought out or considered “go to” people? They may have no title at all, and people seem to value their opinions and respect them. These are individuals who have been granted power by others by virtue of their leadership skills.
How much power do you do you have? Why not find out. Ask your colleagues or employees to give you some “360 feedback.” Ask them what they feel is your biggest leadership challenge and what you can do to improve it. That should develop some respect and helps you connect because you are showing you value their feedback. The first time you do this they may be reluctant. It might mean you have some work to do to get them to feel comfortable giving you the total “honest” truth.
Acting on their suggestions may not be easy. While you can change and improve your traits, it will take real commitment, discipline, and desire to change your old habits. If you expect to get the team to see you as trusted leader you are going to have to succeed in making changes yourself. You will need to change your behavior and habits if you expect others to do so. A leader leads from the front.
Our habits are a function of our attitudes which are patterns of thought developed from our conditioning. Maybe during your career, for example, you had a very bad boss. What did you learn from that? It is important that you see the damage that bad boss caused. Unfortunately, some people just continue the habits that they learned from the bad boss.
Another bad habit is thinking that well this is what I had to do to get to my role. Others should do the same. Break that mindset and place your eyes on your team and learn to know what motivates them.
Understanding motivation and having empathy for others in helping them is just one component for getting performance from teams of employees, associates, or volunteers. Master this and you can work on the others.
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