According to Bob Davids, “The rarest commodity is leadership without ego.” Imagine being under leadership that does not seek to dominate and control but aims to motivate, inspire, empower, uplift and bring out the best in their team to achieve a shared vision or goal!
In my 20 plus years working in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors, I have seen only a few who put egos aside and were truly good leaders.
I have always been passionate about leadership and have been through many pieces of training to help me become a better leader. I also enjoy helping other leaders lead more effectively through coaching and training.
I currently have my own leadership coach because we all have room for improvement and need leadership tune-ups. This is especially important in this current environment that is too often rife with insecure bullies or inept managers versus people who truly lead and inspire.
In Daniel H. Pink’s book “Drive,” he talks about his research and findings about what motivates people, and nowhere does he suggest bullying and controlling. He suggests things like giving people control over their destiny, a sense of purpose, mastery/challenge, empathy, etc.
In my recent viral Linkedin article “Get Out,” which talked about getting out of toxic work environments, I was stunned by the thousands of comments and references to trauma being inflicted on people in the workplace-as far away as Australia-by bad leadership.
One lady, for example, talked about how her boss would holler at her, call her a liar and repeatedly remind her that her (boss’) VP title deserves respect. She then spoke of her anxiety and fear of her boss and the need to pray in the restroom before going to her desk. Others spoke of the effects of these toxic work environments on their health and job performance.
Unfortunately, I can empathize with them as I have experience working under ego-driven leadership. It was not a motivational experience, as it created stress, anxiety and chest pains. On the other hand, when I have experienced good leadership, I felt empowered, energized and ready to take on the world for my boss!
To create healthy work environments where people and organizations can thrive, we need more leaders and fewer bullies! It is critical that companies jettison the old school model of domination and control and trade it in for one that is more productive and less toxic for all. It is time for the real leaders to stand up! So, what can be done to improve the current state of leadership? I’m glad you asked!
10 Keys to Stand-up Leadership:
1. Model the Way– “Don’t talk about it, be about it!” Too often we have company mission and value statements, but how often are they lived? As leaders, we must live out the values. Although none of us is perfect, people respect leaders who model the way. Your employees should be able to look at your actions and see the corporate values at work.
2. Empathy/Kindness-When your mom used to say, “It is nice to be nice.” Her advice is still relevant. The best leaders are kind and compassionate people. They often have high expectations for their people but treat them with dignity and respect. Being kind will not only have a positive impact on employee morale and productivity, but also the bottom line. Because at the end of the day, people may not remember what you said or did, but how you made them feel (Dr. Maya Angelou). Being cruel and harsh is never productive.
3. Move Away from Positional Leadership-It is one thing to be a positional leader where people follow you because they have to, but it is more important that leaders can move to the next level where people follow you because of relationship and because they know you care and are capable of moving the organization forward (John Maxwell).
4. Catch People Doing Good-It is so easy to criticize people, but a great way to motivate people to reinforce good behavior. Catch employees doing right and recognize their good behavior. In doing so, employees will feel more appreciated and it will help create positive peer pressure for other employees to model the positive behaviors that are rewarded/recognized.
5. Share Power-Good leaders empower their people by sharing power and enabling others to act. People want to have some control over their destiny. No one wants to be micromanaged as it is suffocating.
6. Manage Triggers-Leaders get frustrated just like everyone else as leadership is never easy. However, we must do our work and take the time to understand the internal things that impact our ability to lead effectively. When leaders operate more out of the “fight or flight” or triggered mode, they are less rational and effective. Leaders must learn strategies to better manage emotions and triggers so that they can be at their best and not let emotions get highjacked which leads to bad decisions and bad behavior.
7. Hire Leaders-Just because someone was a top accountant or top salesperson does not mean that he or she will be a good leader. Being able to manage a functional role does not mean you will be able to motivate others. Choose candidates who can connect, motivate and inspire people. Hire people with strong emotional intelligence who are good listeners.
8. Coaching-I do believe that leaders are born, but need coaching/mentorship, training and development to take things to the next level. Make sure that you seek training and continuing education to lead more effectively.
9. Employee Input in Evaluations– Evaluations from leaders should not just be based on the bottom line or general objectives. They should also include input from the direct reports of the leaders as well when possible. This is tricky because many employees may fear retribution, but if done correctly can create greater accountability to leadership for creating healthy work environments.
10. It’s Not About You! -True leaders are servants of the people. Your ego, career, comfort, and needs do not come first. After your employees eat, you should be the one picking up their plates-I literally do this. When people know you care and are there to serve, they will knock down walls for you. Please check your ego at the door.
These 10 keys are not the Bible of leadership but are things that can facilitate more productive leadership and work environments. If you can employ a few of these keys, the state of leadership will be a better place for all.
-Make today great!
Remember Greatness Awaits You!
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