When you think of a typical career trajectory, most people start out as individual contributors—the doers of the office—and aspire to getting promoted one day.
However, many people don’t CHOOSE to be a leader with intention (they take on the role because it’s the next logical step). Once in a position of power, they often feel they’ve arrived.
In leadership, there is no arrival.
You’ve probably heard the famous Woody Allen quote, “Eighty percent of success is just showing up.”
Have you ever stopped to wonder how you “show up” as a leader?
I hear people all the time complaining about their employees’ behaviors: they can’t be trusted, they aren’t good communicators, or they just don’t perform up to par.
Here’s the reality: Much of what you see in your environment is a reflection of how you lead, both good and bad.
Remember that employees often model the leadership behaviors you demonstrate. As a leader, you’re constantly in the spotlight, whether you want to be or not.
The secret that separates top-tier leaders from everyone else is that they understand that how they “show up” influences others’ perceptions of their leadership efficacy.
In fact, people’s perceptions become their reality (i.e. what they think becomes their “truth”). Those perceptions are influenced by a number of factors including their personal background, their history, and how they interpret situations.
Want to create a winning leadership brand for yourself? Here are 3 important factors to consider:
1) How You’re Showing Up
If you show up for a meeting late, disengage and multitask on your phone, or skip meetings altogether don’t be surprised when you begin to see these same behaviors in your staff.
If you aren’t engaged, inspired, and passionate about your work, it shows. In fact, your employees can see right through your façade. (*Hint: Employee engagement begins with leader engagement. If you’re not feelin’ it, they’re not feelin’ it either. I can promise you that.)
Choose to be there and your employees will follow your lead.
2) Practicing Good Communication
Leadership communication involves being transparent and responsive.
I had a client once who was frustrated by his team members being “passive aggressive” and talking with others behind his back, perpetuating rumors. The reason for their behavior, however, was that they felt as if they weren’t being told everything and were sharing details with others to try to piece together the “truth.”
You have to keep your team in the loop and let them know what’s going on. In the absence of information, people will make up all kinds of stories in their heads and act on those beliefs.
Likewise, as a leader, you want people to get back to you right away. But do you always extend the same courtesy?
It all boils down to respect. Regardless of whether the communication is face to face, or by email or memo, you must be responsive if you expect your team to communicate effectively with you.
Tweet: In the absence of information, people will make up stories in their heads and act on those beliefs.
Get back to people! If you can’t do something or even if you’re working on it, let them know you haven’t forgotten about them and they’ll know you expect the same.
3) Building Trust
You must both exemplify trustworthiness and extend trust to your team.
As a successful leader your word must be trusted. If you say you’re going to do something, you have to do it. If you plan to meet somewhere, you need to be there. Be prepared to follow through on your promises or don’t make them!
To build trust with others, you must demonstrate that you trust the members of your team. This means letting go of control and allowing them to learn to do things on their own (even the most important and visible projects). With your support, guidance, and trust you will create a win-win scenario for both of you!
“Improving yourself is the first step to improving everything else.”
To lead successfully, you must adopt a mindset where you are responsible for yourself and consider the perspectives of others. Make the commitment to become a leader worth following and inspire your team to follow your amazing lead!