What are the key personal attributes that can transform managers into leaders and good leaders into great ones?
In the new book Leading Well, CEO of the Institute of Managers and Leaders Australia and New Zealand (IML ANZ), David Pich, along with co-author and board chair Ann Messenger have written a research-based guide which identifies the key personal attributes that create strong, honest, and effective leadership. Here, Pich shares his 5 key steps to building respect:
- Develop self-respect
One of the first principles to identify before you can obtain respect from others is the principle of self-respect.
We all must have learnt in our careers that respecting others is clearly important, but having self-respect is a fundamental principle as you will only value others to the extent you are able to value yourself. Employees look up to their leaders subconsciously to develop a natural baseline as to what standards are acceptable: ‘What behaviours should I have, and how valuable am I to the organisation?’ How you respect yourself can make a difference to their viewpoint — and one of the most important aspects of this is the words you speak about yourself and others.
The words that we speak are powerful and can have a lasting impression on our minds, our hearts and the direction we will follow. Words can be used for encouragement or destruction and can be embedded into a person’s heart before they can be taken back. Words have the potential to produce positive or negative consequences. They have the power to give life through encouragement and honesty or to crush and kill through lies and gossip.
This often plays out at home, and it is no different in the workplace. If you tell your children that they are little champions, they can do anything and they need to be positive, you are inspiring them to walk forward with purpose. If they, however, overhear you saying that you can’t do something, that you are useless and you should quit, it creates negative thoughts in their young minds that life is hard and if Dad can’t do it, then what is the point? It is no different with our employees. How we respect and talk about ourselves sets a baseline for our employees who watch and are affected in similar ways.
Listening is another pillar of respect and is at the core of interpersonal relationships. By giving others your undivided attention, you are showing them that you value what they have to say.
In the fast-paced, action-orientated world we work in, this is becoming a harder skill to acquire and is often not used well by leaders. In particular, busy leaders will often not have the patience to hear out a story. They will finish sentences in their head (or verbally) before the speaker has even got to the end. This is often where misunderstanding happens, as sometimes the speaker was not thinking on the same wavelength as the listener and this can lead to conflict in extreme cases.
Be deliberate, patient (which can be hard for extroverts) and take the time to listen carefully to what is being said. Lean in and make good eye contact as your body language can transmit a message as much as your spoken words do. If you find it hard not to let your mind wander, try summarising what is being said in your mind.
- Set the standard
It has been said that actions speak louder than words, and servant leadership can often play a part in setting a solid foundation and high standard. People will respond well and respect a leader who is willing to roll up their sleeves and help out when needed more than one who is always managing from their office. Respected leaders are those who consistently prove through their work ethic that they are reliable and trustworthy on the inside and out.
Setting the standard isn’t just about getting into the trenches, though. The other part of setting the standard is being clear about the vision, goals, and objectives that are required in the role. People respect clarity and direction and are much more efficient and engaged when they are working on the same path as the organisation.
It is equally important that employees feel engaged in the direction and that they can have some input into how the outcomes can be achieved. Involving employees in the goal-setting process can be powerful and can create empowered people who are thinking about how they can make a difference. When goals are achieved, these people take pride and ownership in themselves and the business, and this encourages them to go further and have higher expectations of achievement when the business provides its future steps and goals.
- Be authentic
Authentic leaders are often the most respected as they are true to who they are and work with a strong sense of integrity, humility, and trust. They are generally very aware of their own strengths, limitations, values, and emotions and they do not act one way at work and another in private.
Authentic leaders make those around them feel as if they matter. It can be incredibly empowering to have a leader that you trust and know that what they say is their word and that they will be loyal to you as they lead.
Authenticity comes from being transparent, consistent, open, and available for the people around you. It requires honesty, humility, and integrity, and a leader with these qualities often inspires others by being a role model of the values that they stay true to.
- Recognise and give feedback
As leaders, we are serving our people as much as they are serving our directive. Respect is often found when you ultimately know the people you serve and you regularly give them guidance, inspiration, and support to enable more opportunities and help them grow. This can be achieved by leaders when they give feedback while also rewarding and recognising their people.
Your people may not always like feedback, especially if there are areas they need to improve in, but they will often still respect you knowing that you have been upfront about what the matter was and knowing your intent around growth. If you have made it a priority to know them and understand their core values, while their pride may be hurt, they will trust you and know that you wish to see them do well. Likewise, people appreciate being recognised and rewarded when they deserve to be, and this can have a positive impact on their motivation and that of those around them.
Edited extract from Leading Well: 7 attributes of very successful leaders, now available at bookstores and online at www.managersandleaders.com.au