I love seeing teams focused on the mission, committed to the big picture and loving what they are doing. When the “team” is flowing, not just “working.” There’s PASSION and MOVEMENT. That’s when leadership is fun and life-giving.
But I’ve been on the other end, when I was sick of being leader, tempted to leverage authority rather than influence, and was ready to punch someone if they complained about another petty issue.
Good leaders understand that influence is power and that how they handle power will affect their impact and results. The more you understand influence, the better you are able to maximize it for the benefit of those you lead—which in turn benefits you as well.
Jeremie Kubicek is the author of the newly released book, Leadership is Dead: How Influence is Reviving It. He is the CEO of GiANT Impact, a leader development company whose focus is to awaken leaders by raising their capacity to lead. Understanding influence is what makes leadership come alive, and here are five ways that Jeremie says that you can amplify your leadership abilities:
Aim high. If your team thinks that the goal of your organization is to make money so that you can buy a second home, they will not do their best work. People want to work for larger visions than bank accounts—especially your bank account. Instead, aim high and aspire to make the world a better place to energize everyone.
Be for others. People want to know you have their best interests at heart, too. The problem is that many leaders are primarily for themselves. Or, at least that is what they show. Employees ask themselves if you are for them or only for yourself. Once they think that you’re only looking out for No. 1, they will label you and changing that label is difficult.
Lead yourself. The starting point of effective leadership is to lead yourself; it is called self-awareness. To lead yourself you must know yourself—your tendencies, capacity constraints, strengths and weaknesses. When people see that you can lead yourself, then they will trust that you have the ability to lead them.
Be intentional. Accidental leadership is not a good strategy. Being intentional means that you have a plan to achieve the organization’s goals. In particular, being intentional with relationships takes time, so think about how you want key employees to grow. Think about what you want the team to be focused on at the next meeting. Make intentionality a part of your culture.
Look at the big picture. When we teach ourselves to think big, we enable ourselves to gain perspective. Then we can look at the big picture and make decisions that benefit the entire team. If we only look at one issue at a time, then we miss the benefit of seeing things from a different perspective. When we think bigger, we benefit ourselves and others.
According to Kubicek, leadership typically dies over time when a leader becomes more and more self-absorbed and focused solely on his or her own personal agenda. These five points are ways to counter death and begin giving your leadership new life. When leadership comes alive, so does the organization and the team.
Discouragement that comes from experiencing a major setback has the capacity to stop, or at least slow down, the positive momentum you are seeing in your personal life or work. The antidote for this is called resiliency – and it’s a common quality of those who remain “unstuck” and experience personal success. Walt Disney, Winston Churchill, and Thomas Edison to name a few – all experienced major setbacks that proceeded their very public success.
According to legend, Thomas Edison made thousands of prototypes of the incandescent light bulb before he finally got it right. And, since the prolific inventor was awarded more than 1,000 patents, it’s easy to imagine him failing on a daily basis in his lab at Menlo Park.
In my experience, I’ve observed four common ‘Practices’ of those who succeed in transcending challenges.
1. Honesty And Credibility.
You can’t hide, fake or bluff your way through tough times. If you don’t know the answer to the problems or need help finding solutions, ask. Allow those you are leading to see you as someone who is humble, honest and willing to seek counsel. They will respect you for your authenticity.
2. Be Willing To Face The Brutal Facts.
Gather all your information and look at reality as it is. Your ability to see reality will help you generate a vision of what could be.
Be courageous in your clarity. Be bold in affirming what’s working and honest with what’s not working. Evaluate the strengths of your leadership – and continue to step out and experiment. It will take a measure of faith at times to strategically do something new when there is little money and no guarantee of success. Yet, faith plus strategy is critical in the midst of tough times. Don’t stop doing the right thing. It’s not about what you can afford to do, it is about doing the right thing.
4. The Ability To Inspire.
Tough times bring on frustration, uncertainty and anxiety in most people. As a leader or parent, you have to focus on what could be. Help those who follow you become realistically optimistic about the future. They need a vision that will excite and drive them to work for something better.
Great leaders lead by a plan rather than by accident, says Brian Gareau, manager of organizational effectiveness and engagement at Caterpillar, speaking at CONEXPO this year. “Leadership is really easy,” he said. “It’s the day-to-day application of it that is challenging.”
Great leaders wear three hats, he told attendees:
Manager, with a focus on projects, budgets and assets.
Company advocate, with a focus on clearly conveying executive leadership’s vision — without saying, “Don’t blame me; I don’t make the rules.”
Employee advocate, with a focus on accurately delivering employee feedback upstream to help decision-makers make informed choices.
You can combine your advocate roles to improve employee engagement, which can benefit productivity and retention. What’s critical here, Gareau says, is communication, particularly in times of change and uncertainty.
Share information in a variety of formats — print, online, verbal — to the large group.
Generate understanding by answering questions, speaking with small groups and individuals, and addressing the “what’s-in-it-for-me” factor.
Reinforce applications so that you follow up with people to see what other questions they have and you offer thanks and recognition when you see them doing as you want.
The idea is to integrate and understand the basic needs of employees — fair wages and safe work conditions — and the emotional needs — the fear of change and the need for recognition. When you can integrate these, and lead by example, you get more engaged employees, Gareau said.