I was talking with a colleague a few days ago and they asked me about which of the “leadership intangibles” are most important to the success of a leader. I think my answer surprised them, it likely disappointed them as well.
That’s because my answer was there are no leadership intangibles. None. Zip. Nada.
Everything my colleague believed to be an intangible of leadership must in fact be vividly tangible. For instance, they believed that caring for their people was an intangible of effective leadership.
It’s the exact opposite. Authentic Leaders stand ready to demonstrate, in every possible manner, that they care deeply about the people they lead. They live the principle that says, “you can care for people without leading them but you cannot lead them without caring for them.” While anyone in a leadership position can say they care about their people, Authentic Leaders have no need to say it, they are demonstrating it with every conversation and every interaction.
Giving recognition was offered up as another intangible of leadership. It is not. Giving recognition is an intentional and very visible act. If your people don’t realize that you recognize their commitment and effort then it’s the same as not recognizing them at all.
I literally recommend that leaders put reminders on their smart phones so that they don’t go a single day without providing recognition to at least one of their people. As publicly as possible. When a person in a leadership position tells me that can’t find a reason to recognize their people every day I suggest they look harder…or sometimes just look. Quality effort is waiting to be recognized and once it is, it becomes much more visible.
Leaders who are quick to publicly recognize their people also never publicly admonish them. They keep their constructive coaching private. That’s critical because their people know that if the leader will publicly throw one of their people under the bus they will likely throw any of them, or all of them, under the same bus.
Integrity was suggested as the ultimate intangible of Authentic Leadership. I was particularly flummoxed with this suggestion. Integrity has been given many “definitions.” It is said to be doing the right thing even when no one is watching. It has been described as “acting in a way that benefits many people rather than yourself.
I take no issue with most of the definitions I’ve seen for integrity. But here’s the thing, leaders lead by example whether they know it or not. Their people are always watching. One element of integrity is doing what you say you will do. When you said you would do it. How you said you would do it. EVERY single time. Authentic Leaders know that they either have integrity ALL THE TIME or they don’t have integrity any time. Their integrity is public, visible, intentional and very very tangible.
As an Authentic Leader you don’t get to have any “intangibles.” All your actions are on display for your people to see. They will eventually know your thoughts as well for those thoughts will become your actions sooner or later.
You lead by example. You lead by example. You lead by example. Remember that, counting on “intangibles” to help you lead will result in very limited leadership. As a leader your qualities and characters are always on full display for your people to see. Make sure they are seeing your best ones.
Want more of LeadToday? I’m changing things up on my Twitter feed for subscribers. Beginning March 2nd I’ll be publishing two videos each week focusing on an element of Authentic Leadership. I’ll post these videos each Tuesday and Thursday morning. They will be about 10 minutes long so we can get into the topic in a more meaningful way. The investment for subscribers in still only $5 a month. That’s for at least 80 MINUTES of quality video content on leadership a month.
If you’re interested in taking a look just head on over to my Twitter profile page. If you’re not a follower yet just hit the follow button. It will change to a subscribe button and once you hit that you’re on your way. You can cancel at any time you’ve decided you have nothing left to learn about leading the people who you count on for your success. 🙂
Here’s the link to my Twitter… https://twitter.com/leadtoday