There is little doubt that effective leadership is what distinguishes the efficient, productive, motivated team from the team that just wants to sluggishly trudge through another day. While its impact cannot be disputed, neither can its challenges. Effective leaders recognize that their team members are one of the largest expenses of any budget, requiring the same nurturing and development of any other valuable resource, or more. They equally recognize that their team members have the ability to create some disruptions. If you’ve ever played the Whack-a-Mole game at an arcade, I’m sure you can envision it. Just when you get one person performing and motivated, another team member has a challenge pop up. But the real question is … can any of those challenges be attributed back to your leadership?
Tale of Two Leaders
Think back to a time where you worked for a demeaning, condescending supervisor (unfortunately, I think we’ve all experienced it at one time or another). If you’re like me, you can probably still feel the anger, confusion, and grief just under the surface, even after years of growth and reflection. You felt deflated, maybe even insulted. You remember that the morale of the entire team was affected, leading to a lackluster attitude that had a rippling effect not only on connectivity, but also on productivity. More likely than not, the supervisor was leading from a place of fear or greed, creating an environment ripe for disaster.
In contrast, think back to an experience with a motivating, dependable supervisor (I truly hope we’ve all had at least one) who genuinely cared and took the time not to just accomplish the “required task,” but to show a true interest in helping you grow your career. He or she led with confidence, authenticity, responsibility, and empathy. You regularly felt inspired and motivated to do the best job you could. Fortunately for us all, this type of leadership also has a rippling effect. In my situation, as my career advanced, I emulated that behavior and passed it on to all of those whom I supervised and trained. Many of them soon advanced into higher positions themselves. And the leadership cycle continued on, as it should.
What Type of Leader are You?
I realize that we all want to believe we are the second type of leader (and I sincerely hope we are), but are we confident about that? Are we consistently leading from a place that will inspire and motivate those around us? Let’s face it—we are all human, and there may be times our emotions get the best of us (remember, that’s ok up to 5% of the time). But for the other 95%, can we honestly say we lead with intention to develop those around us?
To determine what type of leader you are, start by asking yourself the following questions:
· If you left your position today, would people still seek you out as an advisor, mentor, or leader with guidance to offer? Or would they not care either way?
· When you are taking corrective action with a subordinate, do they leave the conversation feeling motivated and accepting ownership? Or are they angry and blaming you or others?
· When someone you are dealing with is yelling or otherwise acting irrational, do you take a step back to empathize with them? Or do you yell right back?
· When your once high performing subordinate is making mistakes, do you make an attempt to connect with them on their level to better understand what is happening and offer assistance? Or do you simply reprimand them?
These are the types of questions that will help guide the thought process on how you approach your position. I am sure you have heard in one instance or another, “I respect the position or title, but not the person.” All leaders, in any capacity, should strive to earn the respect of others—not because of their titles, responsibilities, or office sizes, but because they lead from a place of inspiring others to do better in their careers, and in life.
As we’ve discussed previously, effective leadership requires confidence, authenticity, responsibility, and empathy. It requires you to C.A.R.E. and to have the ability to connect with others, communicate effectively, and inspire and motivate your team. But don’t lose sight of the individuality in leadership as well. Ask yourself—what feels right to you? Identify the characteristics you consider to be the most effective and influential traits of a strong leader, and allow those to be your guide.
At the end of the day, it is how we lead our teams that makes all of the difference. We want to be the type of leader that consistently inspires and motivates them. As they develop, so will we, leaving a legacy of leadership along the way.
Until next time, please take C.A.R.E. of yourself and those around you in as many ways as possible.
For more information on this topic, visit One C.A.R.E. at a Time: Effective Leadership Through the Control of Emotions or www.teresameares.com