Are you a leader people want to follow or someone they have to follow because of your position? What makes people want to follow their leader?
If you stop and think about yourself as a leader are you the type of leader that you yourself would choose to follow? If you said yes, what is it about you and your style that people want to follow? If you said no, what prevents you from being the kind of leader that others want to follow?
For me, I want to, and in fact need to, believe in the person in charge. I don't have to agree with everything they say or vice-versa, I don't need to be their friend, and I don't need them to have all the answers. What I need is for them to behave with integrity and be consistent.
If it's that simple why are companies and countries full of people that we choose not to want to follow?
"Become the kind of leader people would follow; even if you had no title or position.” – Brian Tracy
Integrity and Consistency
Integrity is defined as: the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; the state of being whole and undivided.
When things are moving along like a 'well oiled machine' it is a lot easier to be honest and stick to our moral code/values. We don't need or create excuses, we stick to our decisions, we remain consistent, and in doing so we inspire those we lead.
When the going gets tough though it's much harder to find that type of authenticity. The finger pointing begins, the excuses come thick and fast, we move in the direction seems the most appealing even if it means back flipping or hiding from a tough decision.
"Authenticity is the alignment of head, mouth, heart, and feet - thinking, saying, feeling, and doing the same thing - consistently. This builds trust, and followers love leaders they can trust." ~ Lance Secretan
Integrity and consistency is at the heart of authentic leadership but what are the characteristics that we can focus on to deliver on this?
Ethics -moral principles that govern a person's behaviour or the conducting of an activity. This is important because how behaviour and the decisions we make are unconsciously (and consciously) driven by our values and moral code.
• Are you clear about what makes up your moral code? Have you actually spent the time to write down the set of rules that govern righteous behaviour, your behaviour?
• Do you know what values are most important to you? Can you clearly articulate them? Are they in line with the values of your company, customers, suppliers, employees?
This is a great exercise for many reasons, it reminds us about what's really important to us and when we feel out of sync it can be that we have gaps in the values we find important and how w are living up to and within them.
There are many types of power but the most important thing is knowing how and when to use it for the good of the group and for the goals that need to be achieved. In Authentic leadership the power of 'Leading by example' is critical. Do as you say and you will gain respect.
A big topic, needless to say Authentic leaders are good communicators. The key elements?
• A variety of styles that are flexible enough to adapt to the needs of the situation and those they are communicating with.
• It's not 'all about them' they actively listen and accept good advice no matter where it comes from
• They regularly ask for feedback and ask for ideas on how they can improve - they don't judge, defend, apologise for or ignore the feedback.
You could do worse than work on ways to improve these three areas of leadership. If you are already performing well in this area then you have the responsibility of helping others regardless of their level or yours.