Have you ever met someone you respected from the very moment you met them? Have you ever experienced the opposite? Let’s take a moment to compare those two experiences and examine what made those situations different.

I like to think that it comes down to two key traits: authenticity and purpose.

This blog post is for everyone, not just people who manage other people. Let’s dig in…

Authenticity
Authenticity boils right down to being real. Being true to who you are and allowing others to actually see that. People want to know what makes you tick, what motivates you and what you are passionate about. We can all detect someone who is insincere a mile away. And contrary to what traditional thinking may dictate, being real, being vulnerable and letting people get to know the real you is perhaps the best way to establish trust. Even if they don’t like something about you, they at least know who and what they are dealing with. People who don’t know you are people who spend a lot of time making assumptions, drawing their own conclusions and that fear, uncertainty and doubt about a manager or even a coworker can have an incredibly negative effect on productivity and morale.

Purpose
Why do you do what you do? Do you love your job, or are you showing up and going through the motions just so you can make it through the day and go home? Do you come to work intent on making a name for yourself and ensuring that you are viewed in a positive light by others? Alternately, are you focused on the positive impact your work has on others? Do you find joy in getting kids to school and back home safely? Are you energized when you see someone else doing a good job? Or are you focused on yourself, your day, your job, your advancement, your success? Here’s one of the greatest secrets of effective leadership, and it boils down to one word: others. If you focus on the well-being of others, that selflessness will come back to you in dividends.

This applies to everyone!
Notice that I have made no distinctions here between people who manage other people and people who work as individual contributors on a team. That’s because we all have the capacity to be leaders. That is to say, the way that we approach our jobs, and our lives in general, can have an immediate, direct impact on others, no matter what our position is.

How many times have you encountered a dysfunctional team and wondered just where they went wrong? Perhaps the poor behaviors are coming from the team manager directly. I think that more often, one of the team members is the source of the poor attitude and morale. That person just isn’t stepping up and being a leader. Of course, in those cases, I believe that the team’s manager still shares in the responsibility for the behavior of that team, because it’s the manager who is tolerating the poor behavior and negative influencers.

Now think of a highly productive team: they may have a great manager, but it’s likely that what makes that manager great is that his or her focus is on building the right team composed of people who themselves have positive leadership qualities, such as prioritizing the success over the team above their own.

Leadership is in all of us
If great leadership is about caring for others and prioritizing their needs over your own, then one could argue that great leadership is a matter of heart. What is in your heart? Are you authentically yourself? What your sense of purpose? Are you serving others or are you serving yourself? Once your heart is in the right place, leadership suddenly becomes a great deal more natural and effective, and it doesn’t matter if you are a director, a manager, a supervisor, team lead or team member. Just as sure as you have a heart, so too is leadership IN you.

Agree or disagree? Share your experience here!

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