A great leader is not necessarily the person at the top.
A great leader is the person people WANT to follow.
Leadership is not a gift or a privilege which comes with a new title; or a pay increase; or a slightly higher box on the Organisational Chart; or even a corner office!
A position of leadership is an honour. It is an honour because it is earned.
Like trust, or respect, the honour of leadership is earned over time when you consistently display admirable behaviours which deem you worthy of trust, respect and following.
"Without the capacity to influence others, your ability to make what you envision a reality remains elusive because, after all, no one can do it alone. Without the ability to capture the hearts, minds, and energy of others, the truly important things in work and in life can't be achieved."
You need to build strong relationships with your people.
You need to make them feel valued.
You need to teach them how to think for themselves.
You need to show them "Why" so they can work out the "what" and "how".
You need to role model the behaviours you want to see from them.
Be the leader people want to follow. And if you're not 100% sure who that would be ... be the leader you would want to follow!
I believe this requires two essential ingredients:
• The right mindset, and
• Making people feel valued
What makes great leaders stand out?
What are the traits or qualities great leaders display?
It is qualities like authenticity, inspiration and approachability. Great leaders appear confident, are reliable and able to stand the heat. They are respected, humble and care for their people.
When we look at what makes a great leader, interestingly, rarely do people talk about technical skills.
Great Management is about what you DO.
Great leadership is about who and how you BE.
I often get asked: "Are leaders born or made?"
My answer: both.
Some people display leadership talent from a very young age so are fortunate to get a head start on their leadership journey. The great news is that everyone has the ability to practice and hone their leadership skills to become a truly great leader. Born leaders might have leadership talent. Yet all leaders, born or made, need to constantly work on building their leadership skills.
Studies have shown that top performing executives attribute 80% of their success to their mindset. So, it's really up to you to make the decision to want to be a better leader. To adopt a mindset to be a leader who people want to follow.
The work of Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, focusses on shifting your mindset to maximise your potential. Dweck speaks on the concept of a Fixed versus Growth Mindset.
Dweck describes a fixed mindset as a belief that intelligence and ability are unchanging. You are either born with it or not.
People with a fixed mindset tend to:
• Avoid challenges
• Give up easily
• Avoid feedback
• Believe their potential is capped
People with a fixed mindset use language like "I can't" or "I failed" or "This is too hard"
Someone with a growth mindset:
• Believes intelligence can be developed
• Love challenges and setbacks, and see them as opportunities to learn and grow
• Enjoy putting in effort because they recognise it is the path to mastery
• Embrace discomfort because of what they will learn on the other side of it.
Great leaders absolutely have a growth mindset. They believe they can constantly improve. They have an appetite to learn and to do things better.
Similarly, they adopt a growth mindset towards the people they lead. Rather than getting frustrated because Charlie still hasn't achieved that KPI; they truly believe that Charlie has the potential, he just hasn't achieved it ... yet.
MAKING PEOPLE FEEL VALUED
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
In our fast paced, complex society, it's easy to keep conversations at a very surface level. There is always business to talk about and updates to be reported on. As a result, we often skim past the opportunity to truly connect.
Neurology Professor Richard Nastag says "We are not thinking machines. We are feeling machines ... who happen to think".
As human beings (not human doings!), we crave connection. We want to feel heard and to know what we are doing really matters. This is why making people feel valued is your competitive advantage in becoming the leader people want to follow.
In order for someone to feel valued, they must feel:
In order to build deeper, more connected relationships, these are the four words you need to have front of mind. I encourage you to make it a priority to ensure people around you feel these four emotions. People feel more inclined to follow a leader who makes them feel valued.
So, how do you do this?
When you are communicating, don't just talk at the person and listen to what is being said. Listen for how things are being said.
Listen For Understanding, Not Agreement (LUNA).
When listening, don't get distracted by planning your next response, or defending your opinion. Respect that we all have an opinion, so always be open to others opinions, perspectives, values and what matters to them.
Become curious about what you might learn – either about that person and/or their point of view.
If you notice yourself feeling defensive, ask yourself "Am I trying to be right?"
Watch for visual cues. People give away a lot with their facial expr
essions and body language.
Also, listen with your intuition. Notice what you are sensing when you connect with people. Observe a shift in someone's energy. Actually lean in and enquire ab
out it. "Hey, something seemed to upset you then. Can I ask what just happened for you?"
Great leadership communication is not about teaching or convincing.
It's about connecting and learning how you can bring out the best in all of your people.
There is always a good reason behind peoples behaviour – good or bad.
Think "How is this person feeling?"
"What's really going on for them?"
"How can I make sure they're feeling valued – accepted, acknowledged, respected and worthy?"
According to a 2016 HBR study, and countless others, the number one reason people quit their job is because of the relationship with their boss! Making your team feel valued will ensure you won't contribute to that statistic.
Knowledge doesn't change behaviour. Behaviour changes behaviour.
Becoming a leader people want to follow is like a muscle. You need to practice it to build it. You won't get match-fit in one leadership conversation. It's daily commitment. You can keep doing things exactly the same and the result you'll get ... exactly the same! Or, see every interaction as an opportunity to dig a tad deeper; to lead better; to show that extra care factor; to leave an interaction with your team feeling empowered, valued and inspired to follow ... because they WANT to.
Are you ready to step up and be a leader people WANT to follow?
Click here to download your copy of Linda's ebook "The Little Book of Leadership Top Ups".