What is one gift only you can give to those you lead?
Jennifer* was updating me on how things were going around the office. We are working on “developing her voice” so she can increase her contribution to the company. She has great insights, but her confidence holds her back. Yes, it helps once the “boss” requests her input.
What is exciting is to see how her influence is growing as she learns to frame open ended questions. It is a good thing for the sake of the company’s performance.
During our recent coaching conversation she excitedly shared how Mark*, the owner “…seems be more relaxed, more fun, less stressed lately.” She went on to explain, “When he (leadership) is tense, it raises questions in your mind: what am I doing wrong, what’s going on? My sense of security feels threatened. It’s amazing how his mood really impacts the team.”
The impact on performance that is driven by how you show up as a leader is worth thinking about.
The one gift only you can give to those you lead is an approachable you.
Janet* is a Fortune 500 manager and one of my executive coaching clients. Two years prior she was assigned a significant project complete with dotted line accountability to the CEO. A series of events and office conflict with a key player pushed her to think: “I’ll show you.” Her determination to prove she could get the job done came with a price.
She had significant discoveries about herself during our coaching engagement. She was very cooperative and authentic as she showed up each week ready to engage in the work. As I gained her trust she relaxed; smiles began to appear more often…it was a fun coaching engagement.
I’ll never forget that afternoon at Borders; with Mocha coffee in hand I simply ask, “Do others get to experience you like I do?”
“What do you mean?” she replied.
“Do they get to see you smile and laugh like I do?”
It was a moment. Time stopped. It became a turning point as she acknowledged they did not.
What happened? Why the two different behaviors? The intensity of the assignment and her determination to prove she could get it done slowly impacted her behavior around the office. She had lost her identity.
Yes, she had feedback about her how she had changed but it was the coaching that allowed her to connect the dots. Armed with this new awareness we developed a plan and she changed her behavior.
What is one gift only you can give to those you lead?
It is you; a leader who is real, shows up with a smile, positive, optimistic, “fun”; not too intense, a bit more relaxed, and approachable.
With the pressure and intensity of business, on relationships, and in life it is important. Your goal is to alleviate not contribute to the stress of your people. As a leader your demeanor impacts the performance of your employees. When it comes to giving this gift of you the value is substantial and adds no expense to your budget.
For example consider your smile; how often do you smile?
When does your team laugh together (with you)? When do they experience you as more than the boss, the owner or their manager? When do the get to know you as a person?
“Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”
As a leader, how approachable are you?
Several years ago I developed what I call my “Top Ten Influential Practices”. The seventh practice guided my behavior as Station Manager for the five radio stations of Cox Radio-Tulsa. Simply stated it is:
No. 7 – More face to face, less electronic.
It comes as no surprise that all our technological “connectivity” — computers, Blackberries and iPhones; e-mail, texting, instant messaging, the internet, even voice mail is minimizing face to face contact. Relationships. High-tech connectivity is leaving us less connected as people.
Barry Salzbery quotes Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman’s CEO in Shoe-Leather Strategy. Blankfein addresses the growing need for more personal and approachable leadership…
People want to be actively engaged, to be part of a strong culture, to feel meaning and connection in their day-to-day work, and to have honest, emotionally literate leaders to whom they can relate and communicate. The more virtual the world gets, the more personal and approachable leadership has to be. This is doubly true in the aftermath of a downturn as steep as this one.
How is the pressure of business, the charge to “do more with less”, and the economy impacting how you are showing up? What is the impact on those around you?
Now, what if your idea of “effective leadership” doesn’t allow for smiles, fun, and approachability? What drives your thinking on that? What is that costing you? How is that impacting performance?
Consider how often your team sounds the warning: “Be on guard around (your name) today?”
How will you remove that burden from them…this performance hindrance?
Keeping it easy, consider the following:
- Be Authentic – develop your core skills (formerly “soft skills”); care about your people… demonstrate their value by how you interact with them
- See the People – when they walk in your office or you’re walking the hall (What if you take off the reading glasses, carry the paperwork, and stop reading it?)
- Smile More – with a little awareness and intentionality you can give more smiles (Consider enlisting the support of others to give you feedback; yes, old habits die hard)
With this in mind, what is the one small step you can take today to recover, release, or develop your fun and approachable you?
*Some information was changed to protect the privacy of the individual.