I have been discussing my leadership list in depth, and we are up to number five. Only one more to go after this one! My list is a response to Google’s research on the qualities of exceptional teams, as described in Project Aristotle. Here is the list with the bullet points that I’ve discussed so far.
Kathy’s Leadership List
- Be present, and show that you care.
- Focus on keeping your mind present during conversations and meetings.
- Use good nonverbal communication to assure people that you are listening.
- Show interest in people’s activities outside of work.
- Maintain appropriate boundaries for personal discussions.
- Enforce and model respect for self and others.
- Watch vigilantly for situations that make a person or group feel a lack of respect.
- Talk to employees and peers about disrespectful behavior in an appropriate setting.
- Behave scrupulously, in a way that always shows respect for others.
- Establish Designed Alliances whenever possible so that respectful behavior is explicitly defined, expected, and required.
- Include others in decision-making as much as possible.
- People like control. Great leaders give others control as much as possible. Autonomy is motivating.
- Meeting people’s personal needs to be listened to, understood, and respected creates positive relationships.
- We make better decisions with more information. People who don’t agree with us can have valuable information to share.
- After making a decision, a leader should share the reasons behind the decision and their feelings about it.
- Inclusive decision-making saves more time in the long run.
- Ensure individual and team goals are clear and in alignment with organizational goals.
- Leaders must understand how their group contributes to the overall success of the organization.
- It’s important to make sure everyone in the group understands how they, as a group, help the organization achieve its goals.
- Roles and responsibilities must be clear to everyone in the group.
- Each individual needs to know how he or she makes a difference.
- Be consistent, dependable, and positive in your actions, attitude, and mindset.
- Make curiosity your default.
So, let’s discuss number five.
Be consistent, dependable, and positive in your actions, attitude, and mindset. There is a lot packed into this one. Let’s start by discussing what it means to be consistent and dependable. We want to be like Horton the elephant in Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss. Horton agrees to sit on the egg of the feckless bird Mayzie, who promises to come back. She doesn’t, and Horton stays fast on the egg through all sorts of trials. He stays until it hatches, all the while saying, “I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. An elephant’s faithful, one hundred percent.” We want to show that same determination to keep our word.
Of course, things come up, and life challenges us in ways that make it difficult to do what we way. However, great leaders are careful with their words and only promise what they are sure they can deliver. If we can’t for some reason, then we must apologize and make it right in any way that we can. It’s ok for leaders to make mistakes as long as they acknowledge those mistakes and make sure they don’t happen again.
Behaving in a consistent way can also be a challenge. We want to stay calm and reasonable as much as possible, but we have bad days and trying times in life. However, even through the trials of life, we want to show some emotional maturity and not lash out at others.
We could be consistently awful and negative, but that’s not what I’m going for. That’s why I added “positive” to number five. We want to be reliable and positive. Think about leaders whom you admire and follow without question. Any of them negative people? Mine aren’t. I had one woman in my life who I felt was a wonderful leader, and then something happened and she turned negative. She immediately lost her influence over me.
Just to be clear and complete, I specified that we want to be consistent, dependable, and positive in our actions, attitude, and mindset. Actions are easy to define. We want to act in a positive way that proves to others that we are reliable because when people have faith in us, we build trust and personal influence.
I don’t want to quibble too much about the difference between attitude and mindset. In general, I think that we can have a positive attitude about one thing and a negative attitude about something else. We want to cultivate a positive attitude about as many things as possible.
Once we’ve done that, we’ve gone a long way to developing a positive mindset that encourages us to see challenges as opportunities and have faith that things are going to work out for the best. Great leaders have positive attitudes about people and things at work. They also have positive mindsets about life in general and confidence in themselves and the world. A positive attitude and mindset help us to cultivate personal influence that invites others to follow us.
Here are the bullet points to remember:
- Great leaders are reliable in word and deed.
- Consistency builds trust.
- Positive leaders build personal influence.
We are successful leaders when others have the same confidence in us as they do in the rising sun each morning. Bonus points if we create a positive relationship that conjures the warm fuzzies that coffee drinkers feel towards their first cups. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – leadership is all about creating positive relationships. Positivity, reliability, and consistency are the foundation.
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