I recently spoke to a group on leadership and they were amazed that each and every one of us is a leader. Leaders come in all shapes, sizes and careers. You can find them literally anywhere! We most often think of leaders as the President or the CEO or Head of the Something. I’d first like to address the way you may be leading without thinking of yourself as a leader and then secondly how to lead for respect.
Whether you’re a parent, a manager, a supervisor, a clerk, a friend, or a spouse - you’re a leader. It’s helpful to ask yourself often, “What type of leader am I modeling?” When you model life for others you’re a leader; the grace with which you handle a situation – when you learn to flow with the difficulties– becomes a contribution to life and to the lives of those watching.
When you gently draw attention to other’s not “walking their talk”, you are gifting them with lessons and wisdom. You are also expanding their comfort zone, their ‘envelope’, if you will, and broadening their possibilities. When you take responsibility for your communication, you are demonstrating leadership.
When you say “no” and recognize the need to step back and take some down time; you’re being a leader. When you continue to learn, grow and develop yourself as a person; you’re being a leader.
The quality of your relationship with yourself and those you lead profoundly impacts your level of success. A few strategies:
Communicate a higher purpose. We've all heard of studies, which show people accomplish more when they fully understand the significance of their individual contribution. It isn't enough to merely post a company mission statement. Give them a compelling vision and model it.
Believe in yourself and your staff. Belief in self is paramount for a leader. Know who you are and what you represent.
See the greatness in those around you - people tend to rise to your level of expectation when they feel you truly believe in them. Treat others as equals. Treating people with respect no matter where they fall in the hierarchy will empower them to do their best work.
Listen to the ideas of others on your team. A single hand did not build Rome. Listening to and implementing others ideas promotes respect. Not only implement other’s ideas, give credit where credit is due.
Share as many facts with your team as you can. They probably sense the truth already. Share about yourself as well - be real.
Enroll your team. Don't proceed with your working relationships until you have the courage to ask each team member where they stand and then be silent while waiting for the response. A key leadership skill is being able to ask hard questions without being uncomfortable in the initial silence that follows.
Make your people right and give them authority! With the rate of change we're experiencing now, standing still really means falling behind. It’s no longer affordable for leaders to be personally involved in all decision-making.
Sharing authority requires a great deal of trust. To increase your comfort level, gradually start coaching your people to develop their own "toolkit". This will ultimately leverage your power and success.
Be willing to give the benefit of the doubt. What would change in your dealings with people if you presumed good intentions? A key to advanced relating with others is to be able to see the best in them.
Acknowledge others often. No one likes feeling invisible. Most everyone wants to be valued and appreciated. Start focusing on what people are doing right and praise them for it. See them grow in ability and dedication.
What ability do you have to lead? Just by being present and not letting others affect your behavior; you’re being a leader. Wear it well.