A Personal Note from Allison:
This is one of my favourite topics to discuss with clients – Leadership Development. Too many people still think that a title makes them a leader. I was at a conference a couple of months ago on leadership, and one of the speakers said, “The title doesn’t make you a leader, it just buys you time to figure out how to be one.” That resonated with me, and was the springboard for this newsletter’s topic. My hope is that business leaders will read this and see that it takes much more than a title, to make someone a leader.
Have you ever wondered why some people seem to be natural leaders, while others struggle to get anyone to follow them? While it’s true, leadership is a learned skill, some people are just naturally gifted with the ability to influence others. And that is basically what leadership is all about – the ability to influence others.
I have been a student of Leadership for over 25 years. I always make a point to look at the leaders in any employment situation I am in, and try to figure out WHY some are way better at it than others. What qualities do they possess, that make others want to follow them? What do they do? More importantly, what do they do different from their peers?
I also look at people who are not in traditional leadership roles, but seem to wield great influence over their peers and work teams. How do they do it?
In my opinion, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. What matters are your soft skills. You need to build relationships with people, get them to trust and respect you, before they will even consider following you.
So how do you go about building these relationships? How do you get people to trust and respect you?
I always ask this question in my Leadership Development series classes, and the answers I get, although the words vary, are basically the same:
- Get to know your employees as people
- Do what you say you are going to do
- Don’t play favourites
- Don’t participate in office gossip
- Keep things told to you in confidence, confidential
- Be the role model – demonstrate the behaviours you want to see
- Show an interest (and take action) in developing employees
- Be calm when things go wrong, and don’t cast blame
- Demonstrate to your employees that you trust and respect THEM
As the leader, or one who aspires to be a leader, it’s important that you practice your soft skills, until they become second nature. Spend time walking around, in your place of business. See what people are working on. Talk to everyone. Get to know them. Do they have spouses? Kids? Pets? What are their hobbies? When you invest the time to get to know your employees, the return on your investment will astound you! You may uncover some skillsets you didn’t know existed in your workplace. You may discover that an employee is very passionate about something that the organization is interested in getting involved in. At the very least, you will demonstrate that you are interested in them as people, not just employees. This will go a long way to increase employee engagement (but that’s a topic for another newsletter).
When you build relationships with the people you work with, and you are consistent in your behaviour with them, they will learn to trust you, and respect you, and eventually will choose to follow you.
I invite you to connect with me, to learn more on this topic, and how I can help you maximize Leadership Development in your workplace.