The core values of Leadership
How to be or become a great Leader? A huge amount of people may have asked this question to themselves. Well in order to answer it, it is crucial to understand some of the core values of Leadership.
The first thing to know when we talk about Leadership is to understand that every leadership style is different and it is actually this difference that makes everyone unique as a leader. If I would have to describe in a simple sentence what Leadership is, I would simply say that it is the ability an individual has to empower his/her team member(s) to the best manner while doping it in his/her own way. This is why Leadership should be seen more as a result rather than as a proper guideline.
The other very important thing to understand about Leadership is that it is not one main thing that makes you a great Leader, but a combination of hundreds of little things that you will do or say on a daily basis which will make you be seen as a great Leader in the eye of others.
Let’s now move forward with some of the main core values of Leadership!
The subjectivity of Leadership
Something important to understand about Leadership is that it is something subjective. Indeed, it is through the eyes of others that you will be seen as a great leader or not. As mentioned before, if every Leadership style is different, so is the vision that people make of a perfect Leader. Therefore, you may be seen as a great leader by some and in the other hand just be seen as a simple manager by others. This is where we have the first key to success if you want to be a great leader: do not actively look to be seen as a great leader by others, understand that you may not be appreciated by everyone and do the things that YOU believe are the right things to do.
People may be sensitive to knowledge, some to values, some to some specific personalities that they believe match perfectly with leadership. The most important is not to copy or fake leadership but follow your own and only way of being a leader. Only by being yourself, by believing in the things you do and by being true to yourself as much as you are to others will you be able to make a positive impact on the people around you.
Integrity and exemplarity at all times
Many people think that Leadership is only related to the direct impact you have on others. It is actually not. It is also related to the indirect impact you will have on others through what you apply to yourself. By doing so, people will look up to you as a source of inspiration. It is therefore really important to show exemplarity through the way you are doing your job on a daily basis as well through your knowledge of the job. Doing your job well will allow you to be able to give fair and constructive feedback to your team. It will also create an atmosphere where your team members feel comfortable relying on you if needed. It will finally help you to implement more easily new ideas, sort problems and improve what needs to be improved and have your team following it. With a great knowledge of your duties and those of your team, you will be able to gain trust from your team members on the decisions you are making.
There are also other ways to show exemplarity than doing your job well. You must also ensure that you are working with integrity through your attitude, behaviour and through the way you are making decisions. It is what we commonly call “work ethic” and this is why you need to have an irreproachable attitude for them to see you as a leader. In order to do so, you must ensure you apply to yourself what you are applying to others. If one day for example you are giving a feedback to one of your team member regarding something that has not been done properly but that you may have once not done properly too, there is chances that the team member takes this feedback not in a constructive way. The team member may see the feedback as unfair and will not see either the content or the goal of the feedback you are giving (make the team member grow). You simply cannot expect from someone to take onboard your feedback if you are also not applying your rules to yourself, even once. Remember that you are always being looked at and observed as the “example to follow” and the best way to be good as an example, is to not do things because you have to, but because you believe that it is the right thing to do.
Do never change the way you are working whether you are with people or by yourself, work with consistency and remember that it is a combination of hundreds of little things you will do on a daily basis that will make you as a “great example” in the eyes of others.
I have often realized in my previous experiences that it is actually not the people above you in terms of hierarchy that are the toughest and most judgmental regarding the accomplishment of your job but it is definitely the people you are managing. When it comes to give feedback to your team members, they will indeed expect from you to understand their concerns and issues as well as the fact that they are human and they can make mistakes. But in many situations, it will not be the same way towards you as they will expect from you “as the person in charge” to be perfect at all times. They may also be judging you on topics they have never personally encountered or duties they have never done as most part of them have never had your job before and do not understand the challenges and difficulties that it includes. It may seem a bit unfair but as long as you do your best to be an example at all times and have a good work ethic, you will for sure succeed in this.
Be fair at all times
Be fair towards your team is a code of conduct that you should definitely apply to yourself as a leader. To be fair towards your team, you must first of all ensure you are being fair on the feedback you are giving to your team. In order to do so, it is first of all essential to have a knowledge of everybody’s role and duties within your team so you can give fair and constructive feedback to them. Giving unfair feedback because of the fact that you cannot evaluate properly the role of your team will badly affect your management, exemplarity and the respect that your team member is having towards you. Being fair on the feedback you are giving to your team will not only be a useful tool to be respected by your team, but it will also help you to be much more efficient on the development and progression of your team.
As a leader, it is also essential to focus on objective judgement and analysis regarding team member’s performance and never on personal feelings. Your personal feelings concerning team members, either positive or negative, should indeed never affect your vision on their performance and most of all your behaviour towards them. Remember that we all have a different personality and some personality might match better or not match at all between one to another but this is your responsibility as a leader to ensure that it is not affecting your management style towards any team member. In many occasions, the fact that you are still behaving factually towards a low performing team member while being objective enough to give both negative and positive feedback may be a way to empower the team member and improve his/her performance.
Show respect and recognition
When your team members are devoted to their jobs and giving their best to achieve the company’s goals, it is important that they receive recognition for it. There is many different ways to give recognition to team members. It can go from simply congratulating someone verbally to organising an event like a drink to thanks the team for their wonderful achievement. You can also take the opportunity to highlight all the great work that a team member has done during a special celebration such as a work anniversary. Finally, giving recognition to someone can be something more work-focused such as giving more responsibilities or new interesting projects to someone who deserves it. As long as you take the time to do it, there is simply no rules on which way is the best to recognise someone’s achievement and you should just choose the option that matches the best your personality and leadership. Giving recognition is not only something allocated to managers or to someone in charge of a team. Everyone can give recognition to team members. It can be colleagues, clients or even team member towards a manager. Giving recognition to someone who deserve it is a first step towards leadership.
In some of my past experiences, when I have been doing an excellent job and worked hard to “go the extra mile”, I often heard that I should not receive any recognition because “I am doing no more than my job and this is what I am paid for”. It is a terrible mistake to think this way and it is even worse to say it to a team member. This mindset will bring you nowhere and will only demotivate your team.
Inside or outside of work, being respected and receive recognition for what you do and what you are is actually a natural human need that everyone has. Who does not like to be congratulated for something he/she really deserves? Being recognized for something positive you have done or for a positive aspect of yourself is in a way being recognized for what you are. It is exactly the same at work. If in you working place you are being for instance recognized for your good results, your good achievements or for your positive professional attitude, you are being recognized for what you are as a professional. As a leader, this is one of the main aspect of empowerment you must definitely take into consideration: giving to your team the recognition they deserve.
Show self-confidence and believe in yourself
Something very important in order to be seen as a powerful Leader is to display self-confidence and believe in yourself. By doing so, your team will see in you both the strengths and the skills that someone should have in order to “be in charge”. You should never underestimate the power of your non-verbal communication and how much confidence, commitment and self-belief you can express through this essential way of communicating. Your team members, colleagues and superiors will trust your aptitude in handling every kind of situation and in making the accurate decisions. You must always believe that you can do it and you must spread this confidence to your team so everyone got the same belief: I can do it, we can do it. Something that you should be careful about self-confidence and avoid at all costs, is when it goes too far and becomes arrogance. There is nothing worse as a leader than being someone who never looking at himself/herself as well as her/his own mistakes and weaknesses. This bring us to the second attitude that is very important to have as a Leader: humility. A simple definition of humility would be the quality of being humble and having a modest view of one’s importance. Being humble will help you to build trust from your team members. They will see in you the great human being that you are as a Leader and have the feeling you can be trusted.
Some people may think that it is difficult to be both self-confident and humble. As I often say, everything in life is about balance and as long as you find the right balance between both of these attitudes, you will be just fine.
Cast a vision, set objectives and bring changes
If I had to give a simple definition of a vision, I would say that it is a combination of ideas and objectives bringing you where you want to be. This is exactly what you need to implement within your team. If you think about an effective Teamwork, it simply cannot be achieved properly if objectives are not set beforehand. As a leader, it is essential that clear objectives are set both for each and everyone of your team members and for your team as a whole. Individual objectives must be set so the personal development and growing of each of your team member is guaranteed. Team objectives must be also set so you are always moving forward as a team and department. If you also take the time to regularly discuss these objectives with your team alongside with your ideas of implementations and changes you want to bring, your vision will then naturally be understood by all team members.
When you start a new role of manager, you will definitely be looked at and judged by your team on the decisions you are making and the changes you are bringing. Even more, sometimes team members may even fear you at the beginning as they will think that the changes you will bring may affect their ways of working, their environment, their comfort zone or their own goals. You can’t help it; you will always be compared to the one before you and one of the main thing that will be compared is what objectives and which vision you will cast within your team. Therefore, the best way to do it as a new leader in a team is first of all to be patient. You must take enough time to know the place, the strengths and weaknesses, the environment, the issues, the people and even the former goals before setting your own objectives and implementing a vision. Never be too much in a rush. Take the time to analyse so everything you do is done according to your working place, its structure and its environment. Patience is definitely sometimes one of the greatest quality of a leader.
Finally, do not make the mistake to bring changes just to bring changes or to promote yourself. Make sure you bring changes that you believe in and that will really have an impact. Always stand for these ideas as much as you need to. A change may not be accepted by your management or followed straight away by your team but it is only up to you to not give up on it. Always remember, you have been giving trust by those who hired you to run the show with ownership and autonomy, so do not hesitate to “stand your ground” for an idea you believe in. In the end if you are successful, everyone will see you as someone trustworthy who do not hesitate to stand for her/his idea. Remember that this is also why you have been chosen for this role, for making the decisions and having the ideas others wouldn’t. As I used to say to my team of managers: “if there is one thing that would make me really proud, is if you prove me wrong”.