Leadership influences people to voluntarily join with us to make good things happen
Effective leadership isn’t simply about people feeling good or being satisfied with their job. It’s all about results, the actions you influence your people to take. If there’s no action, there’s no leadership going on.
Successful leadership is measured by what your people accomplish. So you have to voluntarily influence your people to take the actions that will produce results. This influence has to be voluntary and your people have to take action. Voluntary influence that results in positive action is what effective leadership is all about.
As a manager, you may be forced to order your people to do some things but that is not leadership. While your management responsibilities may require you to do that some times, you can only get your people to perform way above average and produce great results when you voluntarily influence them. Please see the articles The Five Myths of Leadership and What Is A Leader and What Is Leadership to better understand the difference between management and leadership.
The real question is how do you primarily use voluntary influence to get your people to journey down the path you want them to take. To do that, your people have to trust you.
Trust means assured reliance about your leadership character
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines trust as the “assured reliance on the character, ability or truth of someone.” Trust is about how reliable people think you are. Can your people count on you? Assured reliance involves more than just looking at your past actions. It is a deeper sense about who you are that lends credibility to how reliable you will be.
Building trust isn’t easy. And it’s far too easy to lose trust in a brief moment. You can’t build trust by memorizing a long series of do’s and don’ts. Even if you could pull off following that list to the letter, you would look insincere and manipulative. People can tell the difference between trying to act a certain way versus that way flowing naturally from who you are…. your character.
Trust flows from inside out. Trust springs forth from your principles, beliefs and attitudes that shape your words and actions. You don’t have to be perfect to be a leader. People can tell where you’re really coming from and forgive your human errors. When everything you do flows naturally from a character people trust, you can voluntarily influence them because you are simply being your authentic self imperfections and all.
11 questions about your leadership capacity
The following 11 questions will help you evaluate how effective you are at building enough trust to voluntarily influence your people. Don’t expect to be perfect in answering these questions. Growing as a leader is a lifetime learning experience. Simply allow these questions to assist you in measuring your progress and pinpointing what you want to work on next.
These 11 questions can also be used to evaluate the leadership effectiveness of other people. That can be helpful in deciding who is ready for a promotion into a position that calls for leadership. If you are observant, you will indentify people others trust before they are even a supervisor. It can also assist you in creating an individual leadership development plan for the people who report to you. These questions can even help salespeople build more trust with their customers.
Executives and managers who can mostly answer yes to all of these questions produce higher sales, customer satisfaction, profits, employee retention and employee engagement. Through their people, they get their area of responsibility to substantially outperform the average executive, manager and owner.
This is true in every industry studied and especially in labor intensive industries such as restaurants and those that have direct sales forces. Any company or organization that can raise the level of leadership effectiveness of everyone at every level can boost their end results. In some cases, companies can boost their results more by making leadership their top strategic priority than a new marketing campaign or product launch.
The following 11 questions comprise a self-evaluation, hiring, promotion, leadership development and succession planning tool to boost leadership effectiveness.
1. YOUR PURPOSE What is your purpose in being a leader?
Why do you lead? This is your reason for doing what you do with passion. That passion, that purpose, that why inspires your people and what they do. If you don’t have a big enough “why” about what you do, how can you expect others to embrace what they do with passion and achieve the extraordinary?
When your purpose gives your people something big to believe in, you can get everyone on the same page. It also drives you to want to lead and make great things happen. You have to want to lead for the right reasons if you are going to get people to trust you and join with you.
2. CARE ENOUGH Do you care enough about your people that you want them to win at work and at life?
If you want your people to go beyond the call of duty and enthusiastically join with you to make great things happen, you have to show you care about them as a person, not just as an employee. You don’t just want them to feel okay or “satisfied” on the job. You want them to know you care about them. How you help your people grow on the job should also be seen as a way to help them with their life. This attitude is the foundation for building trust.
3. DEMONSTRATE INTEGRITY Do you do what you say you will do, act with integrity and reflect the highest principles?
Trust means that someone has “assured reliance” about you based on your character and past actions. Everything you do and say, both big and small, tells your people whether they can rely on you or not. Do you act in a way that builds “assured reliance” about all you do and say?
4. SHOW APPRECIATION Do you frequently show your people appreciation and celebrate their accomplishments?
Everyone needs to know they are appreciated and important. It could be something small. It doesn’t have to be huge. You want to make your people the stars of the show and you want your people to know you are paying attention to all the good things they do.
5. DEVELOP LEADERS Do you encourage people to become leaders themselves and support them when they spread their leadership wings?
One of the best ways to know if someone is a leader comes down to whether they are developing their people into leaders. Leaders develop leaders. That’s what they do. It’s baked into their DNA. If you are not focused on developing your people as leaders, look inside yourself to figure out what’s holding you back. That will help you expand your leadership character in a way that can dramatically boost how much people trust you.
6. EMBRACE TEACHABLE MOMENTS When someone falls short, are you bothered by having to point this out, or do you look forward to an opportunity to help them develop and grow from this experience?
This question will give you valuable insights into how you are developing as a leader. Leaders see “teachable moments” as golden opportunities to make a difference in the life of their people. That’s one way they can help them grow and develop so they achieve their full potential. If you see these conversations as something that is uncomfortable and bothersome, you are looking at it as a supervisor or manager, not a leader. And that makes all the difference in building trust.
7. INSTILL PURPOSE Do you help your people discover a compelling purpose that goes beyond doing their job, receiving rewards and being recognized?
People need something to believe in that’s bigger than themselves and their immediate needs. This is what helps them passionately engage in their work and give it their all. This is what gets everyone on the same page so they function as a team. For people to realize their full potential, they need a big enough why to propel them.
8. COMMUNICATE RESPECT Do your words and actions communicate how much respect you have for your people?
Our daily routines and habits are often things we don’t think much about. We put so much on autopilot and never bother to reflect on what those actions and words say about us. Showing respect for your people, showing how important they are to you, isn’t simply about those grand gestures. It’s more about the minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day things you do and say that tell a story. Turn off your autopilot long enough to evaluate what each of your actions and words communicates to your people. Change anything that isn’t sending the right message. Pinpoint what attitudes and beliefs might have led you to act in that way so you can rework those too.
9. ROLE MODEL Do you act as a role model for how you want your people to act?
Everything we do communicates a message to those who work for us. Over time, that model is much more important than our words. Your people will emulate what you model. You can influence your staff to do many of the things you want them to do through your own actions. Voluntary influence isn’t just through the words we say. It’s even more about what are actions say about who we are.
10. CLARIFY THE TASK Do you clarify how everything should be done so your people can succeed and feel good about doing it?
Clarity is one of the most underrated motivators that exist. Harvard University conducted research on employee motivation and concluded that task clarity was the number one motivator above the more obvious things everyone talks about. People are motivated to do that which they know they can do well and avoid those things they feel they might not do well at. The clearer your people understand how to do something, the more motivated they will be do it because they know they will do it right and that will make them feel good. Clarify the what, how, when, where and why you expect before you expect it. When you set your people up to win, you build trust.
11. SERVICE WITH HUMILITY Do you see yourself serving those you lead with humility by helping them grow and develop and clearing away the obstacles in their path?
Our primary job as a leader is to serve the people we lead. This attitude is at the heart of building enough trust to voluntarily influence your people to take action. We walk beside our people and behind them to help them win at work and at life. They don’t follow us. They join with us because we serve them and care about them.
Leaders clear away the barriers and roadblocks so people can perform at their best. We support them and run interference for them so they can shine. We have their back. We help them grow and develop to achieve their full potential. These are the types of things that build trust and will get your people going beyond the call of duty.
Schedule a phone conversation with Don Shapiro, President of First Concepts Consultants, to answer your questions and explore how this discussion could help your organization.