Become a Leader Worth Following
Throughout our career, each of us will encounter various levels of leadership, from the 1st time manager to the seasoned executive. In each case, the individual’s approach to leadership has a tremendous effect on their ability to inspire and influence others in a manner that creates a positive impact on their life and career.
Like me, I’m sure you can recall times when you worked with a boss that wasn’t worth following. And, I’m sure you can recall times when you had a boss that was worth following and how his or her influence helped to shift how you saw yourself, your ability to succeed, and your perspective about leadership.
I came across a post on LinkedIn by @CandiceGaler with the following image:
She received several hundred comments from individuals about the person(s) they deemed were their best managers during their careers. The following is a snapshot of those comments:
High emotional intelligence
Inspired others to do their best
Allowed me to grow
Challenged me to deliver
Trusted me to do my best
Gave me my first break
Had faith in me to do more than I was hired to do
Demonstrated the importance of preserving human values and relationships
Wouldn’t be where I am now without his influence
Empowered, guided and supported me
Mentor and Champion for my success
Exemplified servant leadership in every interaction
Down to earth, understanding, and developmental leader
Taught me invaluable LIFE lessons
These comments reflect the remarkable leadership legacy of men and women who were able to develop a congruent approach to leadership which influenced those within their environments in a positive and meaningful way.
During my award-winning leadership career in the hospitality industry, I was fortunate to have worked beside several great managers and leaders. Nevertheless, there is one leader who has held the #1 spot for being my best boss, manager, and leader, Deloris “Dee” Hucks.
After reading through the comments on @CandiceGlaver LinkedIn post, I can say with no fluff and pretense that during the five years I worked with her in Marriott’s Courtyard division, she grew into a leader that possessed all of the traits mentioned above and some.
The key point in the previous paragraph is “she grew into a leader that possessed all of the traits mentioned above and some.”
We Don't Know What We Don't Know
It was Dee’s passion for her personal development as a leader that impressed me the most. She was open to learning more so that she could become a better person and a better leader. She managed our hotel with a collaborative leadership style for the most part. However, she didn’t hesitate to address issues with her staff which she felt would prevent us from being the best that we could be.
As a mentor and champion for my success, she taught me the power of 'managing up' so that my actions were aligned with my direct supervisor’s goals and my aspirations for growing my leadership career with Marriott.
She showed me through her example what it looks like for a woman to be a brave leader in the midst of a corporate culture dominated by men's voices.
She showed me through her example what it looks like for a woman to Lean In decades before it became the popular philosophy written about by Sheryl Sandberg.
Dee showed me through her example of the power of servant leadership.
Her influence on my personal growth, leadership development and leadership success is reflected in this recommendation for me on LinkedIn:
To say that the talent and character of Jackie were excellent would be the greatest injustice anyone could do to her. She is the one who changed my life, she is the one who influenced my career, she is the one I compare every superior to, she is the one that I strive to emulate. Jackie knows how to listen to her team, and reacts to the needs that allow them to not only succeed but strive to be the best that they can. Working with people that often times failed to see the opportunities that exist for them, she managed to show them a little bit of what can be, a little bit of what they can achieve if they work hard and stay focused. When I started working with Jackie, I was merely a young kid who did not have a direction in life. She saw my talent, and challenged me to succeed, challenged me to become the best person, colleague, and manager I could be. She showed me how to be successful. There is not a week that goes by that I do not look back on something that she taught me and use it to inspire my teams. Anyone that is fortunate enough to have her as a business partner and friend can consider themselves lucky to have such an amazing talent around them.
Mid-Atlantic Regional Visual Manager at Louis Vuitton
Just like Dee, I grew into the leader that Dan experienced during the period we worked together. Daniel's kind words left a huge impact on my heart and commitment as a leader of leaders. Leaders who want to create a positive legacy in the hearts and minds of those they influence must be proactive in their own personal development as leaders.
I never subscribed to the notion of waiting for an opportunity to get prepared. I believe in preparing myself for the opportunities that I desire so that when they appear on my radar I can take advantage of those that are aligned with my values and aspirations.
Sometimes, this means saying YES when I don’t feel quite ready and trusting in my ability to figure it out. Other times, it means saying NO because of the commitments I already have. In either case, I’m always seeking to expand my knowledge, develop and sharpen my leadership and business skills to provide value and service excellence to those I feel called to serve in my diverse leadership roles.
Are You a Leader that Maximizes or Diminishes Talent?
In their book, Multipliers:How the Best Leaders Make EveryoneSmart, Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown identify “two dramatically types of leaders. The first type drains intelligence, energy and capability from the ones around them and always needs to be the smartest ones in the room. These are the idea killers, the energy sappers, the diminishers of talent and commitment.”
“On the other spectrum are leaders who use their intelligence to amplify the smarts and capabilities of the people around them. When these people walk into a room, light bulbs go off over people’s heads, ideas flow, and problems get solved. These are the leaders [individuals] who inspire employees to stretch themselves to deliver results that surpass expectations. These are the Multipliers. And the world needs more of them, especially now, when leaders are expected to do more with less.”
If someone were to randomly interview people you’ve worked with throughout your leadership career, would they say you consistently demonstrated the qualities of a diminisher or multiplier?
Why? Because you need to know the impact your leadership style is having on those around you. Without a clear idea of how your leadership style is influencing those in your home and at work, you’ll engage your leadership role devoid of understanding and key insights that will help you become a better leader for those within your sphere of influence.
Be Careful of YES People
Make no mistake about it. The people in your circle of influence are watching you. Just because they aren’t saying anything to you doesn’t mean that they aren’t paying attention.So, if you’re always relying on those you get along with best on your team to tell you about your leadership, it is reasonable for me to share this truth: you are setting yourself up to deal with unnecessary strife, bickering, and disengagement among your team members.
Each of us has blind spots. YES people don’t have the guts to tell you what they believe you want to hear. They are too busy attending to their agenda about the relationship they have with you. Every leader needs people who will shed light on his or her blind spots. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself in a position wondering to yourself, “Why didn’t someone tell me this?” (I speak from experience.)
Stop Taking Everything Personally
If you can’t listen to dissenting perspectives from others about yourself without always being offended, you will thwart your growth. As a leader, you can’t take everything personally and be effective. If this is a challenge for you, I suggest that you begin to expand your emotional intelligence skills.
In his book, Emotional Intelligence Daniel Goleman described five factors of emotional intelligence. They are:
Self-awareness – the ability to read one’s emotions and recognize their impact
Self-management – involves controlling one’s emotions, impulses, and adapting to changing circumstances, being capable of bouncing back from life’s disappointments.
Self-motivation – the ability to harness your emotions in the pursuit of a desired outcome. Focus, self-mastery and learning to delay gratification and stifle inappropriate desires are important emotional intelligence skills.
Empathy – the ability to sense, understand and react to others in a positive and compassionate way.
Relationship Management – the ability to develop ad cultivate effective interpersonal skills that inspire, influence and successfully manage conflict.
Leaders with high EQ are better able to manage their feelings so that they are expressed appropriately and effectively enabling them to create a culture of collaboration necessary for teams to work together smoothly towards a common goal.An effective way to create a collaborative work culture is to recognize and reward collaborative efforts among your team members.
Leaders Who Are Multipliers Do This
Leaders who are multipliers commit to making their team members smarter. They inspire members of their team to stretch themselves and exceed their own expectations about what they are capable of achieving.
Multipliers manage their energy so that they will consistently demonstrate a passionate determination towards the success of their team.
Multipliers provide team members with opportunities to grow and develop their talents. Multipliers encourage team members to share their smarts. This often leads to innovative practices that enhance the group’s achievements.
Multipliers are clear about what they stand for and what they won’t stand for. Multipliers are fair, firm and consistent. They champion the diverse experiences and talents of their team members. In their presence, people feel accepted and respected.
Multipliers are committed to their own personal development because of this truth: a team or business can only grow and succeed at the level of its leadership.
Multipliers become leaders worth following.
10 Influential Traits of A Leader Worth Following
Below are ten traits that will expand your capacity to multiply the talents of your team while growing your capacity to become a leader worth following.
Leaders worth following carry a vivid image of what is possible and this vision drives him or her.
Leaders worth following are able to maintain a Spirit to Serve towards both their internal and external customers. They are a role model for service excellence within their families, communities, and workplaces.
Leaders worth following see their role as a developer of future leaders as a primary objective of their leadership. They are invested in creating a leadership legacy that carries on beyond them.
Leaders worth following recognize people’s improvement – no matter how small.
Leaders worth following connect with team members in a meaningful way so they can realize more of their potential and stretch beyond their preconceived limits.
Leaders worth following use their instincts to engage the diverse talents of their team members for the purpose of innovating processes, products, and services that can give their team/organization a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Leaders worth following are able to maintain an unwavering faith in the face of obstacles while cultivating an agile and adaptive approach to challenges and opportunities. They don’t cling to their chosen route when all evidence suggests it is a dead end.
Leaders worth following communicate in such a way that it summons faith and optimism in the people they serve so that together they can forge ahead to manifest a new reality.
Leaders worth following develop their capacity to coach and collaborate with team members who are just as, or more so, knowledgeable about certain key performance indicators within their organization or industry. They are secure in what they bring to the table. They are brave enough to hire and surround themselves with people smarter than themselves.
Leaders worth following keep things as simple as possible. They don’t make the process of work more complicated than it has to be.
Leadership is not a title. A position of leadership gives you a degree of authority within an organization. Just because you have a position of leadership does not make you a leader worth following.
Multipliers become leaders worth following because of their desire and ability to invest in the people on their teams with an intention of being a champion for their success. Multipliers understand that leadership has to be more about others than themselves to get buy-in, loyalty and discretionary effort from their team to create the sustainable success they believe to be possible.
Multipliers understand the long game. Yes, they want to build momentum with early wins, but, they also understand the seeds of progress involves a process. Like a great farmer, they continue to tend to the seeds they plant to ensure the unfolding and blossoming of the harvest they desire.
Multipliers are visionaries with a relentless focus on the success of their team, their organization, and themselves. They understand that their team is a reflection of their leadership values and why it’s important to be clear about their leadership vision and values, so, they can consistently align their mindset, mood,and moxie with them. And it is in the power of this alignment they are more apt to establish and expect specific standards of conduct and performance from individuals in the environments in which they live, play, and work.
Multipliers cultivate a growth mindset. They understand that it is not in their best interest to rely on what has created their present success will create future success. They accept the responsibility that if their family, community, team and organization is going to ascend to the next level of success they have to remain committed towards growing themselves. They know that their level of success is dependent upon their ability to grow themselves via personal growth strategies and leadership development skills.
Your capacity to effectively lead yourself and others is dependent upon your willingness to continue to grow. What got you where you are, won’t get you where you want to go. If you resist this truth and continue approaching leadership the way you have always done so, yet, expecting to experience something different, you won't experience anything different.
However, if at this moment the words in this article resonate with you, and you feel inspired to take new actions that will expand your approach toward leadership, friend, you may be on the path to becoming a leader worth following. Your consistency in implementing these new actions will determine if you become a leader worth following.
Use the ten practices shared in this article as a guide for helping you navigate your way forward to becoming a leader worth following. If you desire to create a leadership legacy beyond you, one that reflects the lives of people you have inspired and champion and the organizations in which you’ve contributed great value, aspire to be a multiplier. Multipliers become leaders worth following.
Now, I'd love to hear from you. Which part of this article resonated with you? Share your comments below.
Thank you for reading and adding to this conversation. If you know anyone who would benefit from this article, please share it with them.
With Gratitude, Jackie
P.S. Leaders will always be faced with unexpected situations that they had no control over, such as the case of the COVID-19 and the disruption it is having on all industries in the marketplace. When we are faced with a crisis that is beyond our control, such as I had to with the unexpected loss of my teenage son Blease six months after my first executive leadership promotion years ago, I was able to ground myself with a set of habits of mind that enabled me to build award-winning success despite the heart-wrenching grief I was experiencing.
Today, these habits of mind serve as the foundation for my Go Be Great Movement. My personal growth and leadership development initiative designed to help individuals learn, apply, and succeed in diverse personal and professional situations with the Go Be Great system for success. This 5 part framework when applied consistently over time enables individuals to master their inner game of greatness in order to show up to any situation as their best self at that moment.
When we are able to meet any challenge with the best within our potential, we increase our ability to position ourselves to deliver great value and come up with creative and innovative solutions to overcome the challenge. When we meet our challenges half-heartedly, we diminish our ability to tap into our full potential.
If you aren't moving the needle as you would have hoped by now towards a personal or professional goal, it's because there is something you don't know that you need to know or you're not accessing the full range of your potential. In either case, I can help you.
If you are an individual or a leader, I recommend that you attend my upcoming Go Be Great Workshop or schedule a discovery call with me to determine if personal coaching would work best for you and the achievement of your goals. If you are a leader in an organization seeking to improve your team's performance, I recommend that you contact me about my Go Be Great Corporate Workshop.