Leadership PRIDE

Authentic Leaders take great pride in the results their leadership creates. There is nothing wrong in that because Authentic Leaders also put great PRIDE into their leadership efforts. 

P – Authentic Leaders know that leadership is Personal. It’s about people and they respect their people in a way that demonstrates they care about them. An Authentic Leader knows that their own success is dependent upon the success of their people. They work to help their people accomplish extraordinary things. They don’t see working with their people as an expense, they see developing their people as an investment.

R – Authentic Leaders accept Responsibility for all of their actions and decisions. They do not play the blame game. The results produced by the people they lead are their responsibility. They willingly pass along the recognition that comes with success. They accept more than their fair share of the responsibility for anything that goes wrong. Their people’s individual success means more to them than their own.

I – Authentic Leaders work from the Inside out. Their leadership is powered by their heart and guided by their intelligence and experience. Heart based leadership makes it easy to show that they care because when the heart is involved with leading then caring comes naturally.

D – Authentic Leaders know that leading must happen Daily. There are no “off days” or days when the leader can just let their people fend for themselves. For an Authentic Leader everyday is a leadership day. Everyday is a day to demonstrate integrity and interest in the people they lead. Everyday Authentic Leaders invest the time to truly know the people they lead. They invest the time to understand the goals and priorities of their people and what they can do to help them achieve those goals. 

E – Authentic Leaders know that one of the things they have complete control over is the amount of Effort they put forth to develop their people and help them achieve success. They willingly sacrifice some of their own freedoms and success for the benefit of the people they lead. Authentic Leaders have the ability to motive themselves so the example they set is one that people will want to follow. That example leads people to be committed, to their colleagues, to the organization and to the leader. 

Authentic Leaders don’t work to earn a position that people will have to follow. They put PRIDE into their leadership so people will want to follow. 

Do you put PRIDE into your Leadership?

The Leadership Difference

I’ve met a lot of “leaders” in my lifetime and a few of them actually led. 

If you’re confused by that sentence let me explain. Lots and lots of people hold positions in their organizations that would indicate they are leaders. Many of them have some fancy title that would seem to confirm it. 

Too bad for them that neither a position or title can make them a leader. Even having followers doesn’t actually make someone a leader, at least not an Authentic Leader. People can be coerced into “pretending” to follow. The truth is they are merely complying with orders and directives so they can keep their paychecks coming. 

Authentic Leaders don’t need compliance and they rarely give “orders.” They work to earn the commitment of their people so their people willingly follow them. Enthusiastically follow them. 

The followers of an Authentic Leader follow them because of what the leader has done for them. They follow because the leader makes a positive difference in the lives of the people they lead. 

I’d go so far as to say if you haven’t made a positive difference in the lives of people you think you are leading then you may be their boss but you are not their leader. If you’re not consistently showing the people you lead that you care about them as human beings then you may be their manager but you are not their leader.

If your words do not match your actions then they cannot trust you. If they cannot trust you then they may comply with your demands but they will never be committed to following you. 

If your people believe that you’re using them to advance your own career then you’ll be unable to earn that commitment no matter how high your position or fancy your title. 

So let me ask you this. Can you specifically say how you’ve made a positive difference in the life of someone you’ve led? Can you say how you demonstrate, on a regular basis that your people matter to you and your organization? Can you say when, exactly, was the last time you told them that they matter as an individual? 

If you can’t answer those questions and do so relatively quickly then you have some work to do. You’ll need to invest some time to improve your leadership skills. You likely have to change your thinking as well. Some of all you may even have to develop a heart for leadership. 

The great news is that all that’s possible. To begin all you need to do is make a decision that you will LeadToday!

Characteristics of Great Followers – Part One of Two

Much has been written about the characteristics of great leaders. A bunch of it has been written by me but I thought it might be worth the effort to look at leadership from a different perspective. The perspective of followership.

What exactly are the characteristics of someone who is a great follower? Some of you are likely  wondering why anyone would aspire to be a great follower. It seems almost like a given that the goal should be to leave the ranks of followers to assume a role of leadership. 

But that’s not always the case. It is not even close. Many people do not want to be in a position of leadership. They are fulfilled being more of a doer and have no aspirations to lead. 

That’s perfectly okay. In fact, it’s more than okay, it’s absolutely necessary. Let’s face it, they are called “doers” for a reason. They get stuff done. Not that leaders don’t but the heavy lifting, the majority of the things that must be done are done by followers, not leaders. 

Any leader who believes otherwise is a very limited leader. They are not being honest with themselves which will make it very difficult for them to be honest with anyone. 

In reality followers are also leaders. That’s why the first characteristic of a great follower is that they lead themselves exceptionally well. They honor their commitments. They maintain a positive attitude and try hard to always give their best effort. They show respect for others. They highly value time and demonstrate their respect of other people’s time with their punctuality. 

They don’t make extra work for their leader. In fact, they try to take some of the workload off of them. That’s the second characteristic of great followers, they lighten the load of others. They do not do it at the expense of their own workload. They efficiently complete their own work and only then look for ways to help their leader and co-workers finish theirs. 

Great followers possess the characteristic of doing what others won’t. They don’t shy away from the tough jobs or trying something new. You’ll seldom hear a complaint from a great follower when they are asked to do something that others are unwilling to do. They see being asked to tackle a tough job as a compliment and recognition of their abilities. They get the job done, no matter the job they were given to do. 

Authentic Leaders help ordinary people accomplish extraordinary things. Great followers can accomplish those extraordinary things with a minimum of leadership. Every leaders needs as many great followers as they can get. They understand that their success is dependent upon the success of their followers. When they have several great followers they can focus more of their attention on the people who need it most. 

In our next post we’ll look at a few more characteristics of great followers. If you’re currently in a “followership” position and aspire to one of leadership then you should know that all great leaders were once great followers. Your best hope of earning a position of leadership is to first develop yourself into the very best follower you can be. 

The Remote Work Genie is Out of the Bottle

At last! Finally people are returning to their places of work. Office buildings are coming alive with the sounds of collaboration and spontaneous conversations. It’s an awesome sign that at least in parts of the world “things” are returning to normal.

“Normal” however is a relative term. It would be a terrible waste of an unprecedented time of learning if everything went back to exactly the way it was before turmoil overtook almost every business.

But some companies seem determined to return as close to pre-pandemic working conditions as possible.

It won’t be possible!

It won’t be possible because their employees won’t allow it. There will be a mighty battle for control within organizations that try to return completely to the way things were in the “before times.” Make no mistake about it, organizations that insist on having all employees in the office full time, all the time feel that is the only way they can control their people.

The truth is Authentic Leaders need neither compliance or control because they have the commitment of their people.

Employee survey after employee survey shows those organizations will be fighting a losing battle. Literally losing. Losing people by the droves. When you average out some of the bigger surveys you discover that 39% of an organization’s employees say they will consider quitting rather than returning to the office full time. Companies that have been among the first to attempt returning their people back to full time office work are discovering that half of that 39% are doing more than considering, they are in fact quitting.

If your organization is considering returning your workforce to full time office work there are a few things you may want to consider.

First, you have no control over who returns and who quits. You will lose some very talented people. The least engaged and least productive people are in fact the most likely to stay. You will negatively impact the productivity of your organization…all in the name of “control.”

One of the greatest resources a company has when recruiting new employees is it’s current employees. They can be constant “ambassadors” for your organization. Or not. Which one do you think is the more likely case if you’ve forced them to return to old, in many cases less productive ways? All in the name of control.

As you lose employees you will likely want to replace them. Good luck with that. Some surveys show over 80% of Millennial and Gen Z employees would not even accept an interview with a company that doesn’t offer flexible remote work options. You will struggle mightily to hire new employees…all in the name of control.

There are some people who, for a variety of reasons, cannot work remotely. There are some people who simply should not work remotely. But over the last 15 months most office employees have proven that they can. Their expectation is that they will be allowed to continue that at least part time.

The remote work genie is out of the bottle and no one is going to get it all the way back in.

There is no doubt about the power of collaboration and spontaneous hallway conversations. Face-to-face meetings allow people to connect and communicate in a way that Zoom and Teams never will. Every organization needs people back in the office at least sometimes.

They also need to find the balance that allows a level of flexibility for their people.

Nothing will go back to exactly the way it was before the pandemic. It won’t because it can’t. Organizations that learn to adapt to that reality will have a huge competitive advantage when recruiting new employees. They will also be far more likely to retain the talented ones they already have.

People Leadership

Leadership is about people and it’s only about people. No one can lead a company, they can only lead the people who make up the company. There are no “team leaders,” there are only leaders who lead the people on the team. 

Stuff, businesses, buildings and budgets need to be managed, people need to be led.

That’s why interpersonal skills are so critical for effective leadership. If you cannot relate to the people you’re leading then you won’t be leading them for long. Effective leaders know that communication is vital when attempting to relate to others. That’s why their efforts to improve their communication skills is never ending. 

Many people occupy leadership positions but it seems these days as if fewer and fewer of them actually attempt to truly lead. They issue edicts and write policies without so much as a thought of how it may impact the people they supposedly lead. 

Whether intentional or not the actions they take and the statements they make build barriers between them and the people they need to grow their organizations. 

Effective Authentic Leaders don’t merely occupy a leadership position, they actually lead. They build bridges between themselves and their people. They use their interpersonal skills to break through barriers. Once the barriers are down their excellent communication skills come into play. The seek first to understand the people they lead. They talk with them, not to them. They listen twice as much as they talk. They listen with more than their ears, they listen with their heart as well. 

Edicts and policies attempt to force the compliance of people. Interpersonal skills combined with thoughtful communication build the willing commitment of people. 

What amazes me most is how many people in leadership positions don’t even like the people they should be leading. They often refer to them with words and phrases meant to “put them in their place.” Poor leaders want the people who work for them to know that their “leader” is smarter than they will ever be. Poor leaders sentences are laced with I I I, as in I want, I will, I did this and on and on. 

Authentic Leaders not only like the people they lead, they care for them. Immensely. They refer to their people with words and phrases meant to build them up and help them see their full potential. Authentic Leaders want the people who work with them to believe they can accomplish anything, even one day surpassing the leader. Their sentences are full of words such as, we, ours, and us. You’ll seldom hear an “I” come out of their mouth. 

The next time you’re speaking with your team record what you say. Then listen to it with a critical ear. If your message is short on “we” “ours” and “us” then your people may perceive you as a person in a leadership position who doesn’t really lead…or care about them.

If that’s the case you’re costing your organization an opportunity to grow and you’re limiting the potential of the people you could be leading. You might be fine with that but if you’re not then you have work to do. 

That work will begin with a decision to change your thinking. You can reap the many rewards of actually leading people or you can suffer the unending consequences of treating your people like things. 

The choice, as always, is yours to make.

Singles and Homers

Let’s say you’re the coach of a baseball or softball team. You have your choice of a player who hits a single 9 out of 10 times at bat. Or, you can choose a slugger who hits a home run 1 out of 15 times at bat. The downside is when the slugger doesn’t hit one out of the park they almost always strike out.

So which would you choose?

I suppose it might depend on whether the home runs came with people on base. But that’s true for the singles hitter too. In fact, it’s far more likely for the singles hitter to have people on base than it is for the home run hitter. That’s simply because the singles hitter collects so many more hits. 

The home runs may be more celebrated but all the singles add up over time. As a leader you may have one superstar performer and your temptation might be to invest the majority of your time with them. But never forget the steady performance of the remainder of your team. 

Their efforts add up over time. Investing time and energy with them could very well turn one of them into your next star performer. 

If you have people in your organization who are not worth investing in then you have people who shouldn’t be in your organization. Don’t forget that. 

Everyone in your organization matters. They all bring some unique value. If you’re an Authentic Leader you will find that value to help them grow so they can help you grow your organization. 

Investing in your people, especially investing your time, is one of the best investments you can make. You can also invest in them by honoring every accomplishment of both your sluggers and singles hitters. Big and small, all accomplishments are worth celebrating. 

The Reward for Growing People

A good manager can grow a business. Most often they do it with very little help. That’s because the people who work for them are not exactly engaged with helping to grow the business. 

The most likely cause of that lack of engagement is the fact that they are managed rather than led. 

That limits how much and how fast even a great manager can grow their business. While they may have the compliance of those who work for them they do not have their commitment. It’s tough to grow anything with a bunch of merely compliant people. 

Managed people will always create problems for a business, for the customers of the business and especially for the manager. I’d say most of them don’t do it intentionally, it’s an offshoot of their lack of engagement. 

That’s why I tell managers that most of the “people problems” in their organization are caused by them, not the people who seem to be the problem. 

I can say that with a high degree of confidence because when those same people are exposed to Authentic Leadership they engage rather quickly. Sooner rather than later they commit to that leader. 

An Authentic Leader’s potential to grow a business is unlimited. It’s unlimited because they lead their people. They grow their people knowing full well that as their people grow those people will grow the business.

An Authentic Leader invests a portion of their time EVERYDAY to grow their people. They invest of part of themselves in their people and they celebrate the success of the individuals they lead…even over their own success. 

Authentic Leaders invest the time to know and understand their people. They know each person’s unique situation. They know their goals. They know their challenges. Most importantly they know how they can help them achieve their goals and overcome their challenges. 

Each day an Authentic Leader takes intentional action to SHOW their people that they care. They SHOW their people that they come first. They SHOW their people that they understand that every leader’s success is completely dependent upon the success of the people they lead.

Their people commit to the leader because of what the leader does for them. Authentic Leaders seldom deal with attitude issues. They don’t have the tardiness and absenteeism concerns that managers have. They have a much easier time recruiting new employees because the employees they already have do the recruiting for them.

All that because their people are led instead of managed. The rewards of growing people are many. One is knowing that as your people are growing your business you’re making a positive difference in their lives. 

As an Authentic Leader that difference is likely to outlast your time as their leader. That may be the biggest reward of all.