A Guest Post By Ken Jacobs, ACC, CPC, ELI-MP is the principal of Jacobs Consulting & Executive Coaching
I’ve often said that leadership involves two choices: Your choice to be a leader, not a practitioner, not a manager, and not just a senior vice president, but to build trust with, motivate, and inspire one’s followers. And your followers’ choice to follow you…or not. Even if your name is on their paycheck, they still have a choice. They may do their jobs and check off the boxes on their to-do lists, but they might not truly follow you unless they choose to do so.
I believe this to be true, whether you lead an enormous unit, a boutique agency, or a two-person department. And it’s also true no matter whom you’re “leading”: your followers, your peers, your boss, and yes, yourself.
One of the best ways to assure that you’re being the most effective leader possible is to think of yourself as a role model in all your interactions.
Answering the following eight questions will help you to become a leadership role model:
- Am I self-aware? Awareness is the first step in becoming more effective leader, and certainly one of the most important ones in enhancing one’s leadership skills. You can grow your awareness of how your team perceives you as a leader via 360 feedback reports, and self-awareness of who you are as a person and a leader via a number of sources, such as the Energy Leadership Index from the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC, where I underwent coaching training and earned and three of my certifications), EQ, the book Emotional Intelligence V2, and the MBTI.
- Am I choosing perceptions that work? The perceptions of people and situations that best serve me, them, and the organization, and the outcomes for all. Our perceptions are our realities, and we do get to choose the perception we want. Try it!
- Am I tapping into the power of questions? As leaders, we’re often tempted to provide all the answers. But that’s not true leadership, because it doesn’t encourage our follower to be engaged, or to take ownership. That’s because our answers light up a small part of the other person’s brain. But questions light up additional parts of their brain that encourage emotional engagement. More than that, our providing the question, rather than the answer, signals to the follower “I believe you can figure this out.” And nearly all the time, they can!
- Am I giving others a heaping plate of confidence? This is related to the point above. When we, as leaders provide the answers, we are being teachers, but we’re not fulfilling our true responsibility to mentor and coach our people to figure things out for themselves, and thereby, ultimately achieve their own success. And our followers don’t always come up with their own solutions because 1) We’re always supplying them; 2) They don’t believe they can come up with them; or most likely 3) A little of both. When we tell our people to come into our offices with solutions, not problems, and when we let them know, via our words, tone, and energy, that we believe they have the ability to do so, we’re giving them a tremendous gift.
- Am I displaying courage? Courage is one of the most magnetic of leadership attributes. Why? Because, our followers’ antennae are tuned to high alert for fear, but they yearn for our bravery. Just look at how the American patriots followed Washington, the British people followed Churchill during World War II, and the Indian people followed Gandhi during frightening, turbulent times.
- Am I consistent? Followers would much rather follow a leader who is consistently good, than one who is great three days a week, awful one day week, and the other day of the week they don’t know what they’re going to get from their leader. So whatever leadership style you employ, do so consistency. Your followers will respond with loyalty.
- Am I investing in my own leadership development? Leadership is a never-ending journey. The best leaders with the most loyal followers have learned that effective leadership is about being a lifelong leadership student. The good news is that there are so many leadership experts out there whom we can follow, so many great leadership books, so many leadership blogs we can follow so many leadership webinars and classes we can take to make sure we’re bringing out best as leaders!
- Am I truly a servant leader? There are many different leadership styles, but in my opinion, the most effective one is that of servant leader, because that’s what’s most effective for their followers. The servant leader first sees their organization or department as a pyramid, with them at the top illustrating their role and the buck-stops-here responsibility. Then they flip that pyramid upside down, seeing that they are truly on the bottom, supporting everyone else in their organization to their greatest success. It’s only when leaders acknowledge that their greatest responsibility it to help their followers succeed, that they’re on the road to truly effective leadership, and ultimate organizational success.
So, are you being a leadership role model? If you answered yes to all or nearly all the questions above, you probably are.
If not, you may want to do some work around your leadership. Please feel free to reach out to me for a complimentary session to explore your leadership opportunities, how coaching works, and if partnering as client and coach might make sense for us. What do you have to lose?
Ken Jacobs, ACC, CPC, ELI-MP is the principal of Jacobs Consulting & Executive Coaching, which helps leaders, executives and managers in the communications space achieve and surpass their organizational, career, and personal goals, by becoming more inspired and inspiring leaders. You can reach find him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and at firstname.lastname@example.org