Admiration. Emulation. Stories told about great challenge, well-met.
Does your leadership inspire this type of respect?
Leadership that inspires respect is one of the top ten characteristics of great leaders.
Not everyone wants the pressure and responsibility of a high-profile leadership role.
Leadership of all types – some more than others – brings with it a very bright spotlight.
If you’re in a leadership position, people watch you very closely to see if you mean what you say, and and if you hold yourself to the same standards that you hold others to.
What your employees or team members discover about your honesty and integrity has a lot to do with their decision about whether or not to throw their full effort and loyalty your way.
For example, imagine a leader who says he values customer input.
He gets a vigorous complaint from a frustrated customer about the failure of his company’s flagship product or service (and perhaps, as a “bonus,” feedback about his leadership, as the head of the company that created the failed product or service).
What’s his next action? Does he:
1. Use the complaint for positive action, perhaps leading to process improvements that make the product better, reduce rework and the need for customer relationship repair, ultimately improving profitability?
If this leader views customer complaints as valuable – customer research he didn’t seek but now has, and can use to good effect – this response is a winning one.
2. Or does he ignore it, laugh it off, or in other ways try to get rid of the feedback? Or worse, does he belittle the customer who made the complaint, especially in front of employees?
That action, however fleeting, speaks volumes in a very negative sense. And it emboldens others in the company to act in an equally disrespectful way toward customers, and perhaps each other, as well.
Sooner or later, this insidious behavior is likely to drive customers away.
Leaders who inspire respect do these things, among others:
1. Make tough calls with an eye to the future, as well to the demands of the moment.
2. Know their values – what they stand for and what they are against.
They make decisions and take actions based on their values and those of their company or team.
3. Set high standards and lead by meeting those standards themselves.
Leaders who inspire others don’t just assert or expect certain actions from others. They also act in ways that create positive examples for others to follow.
4. Set clear boundaries for what’s acceptable behavior and what’s out of bounds.
5. Treat others, both inside and outside the company, with respect.
6. Incite positive, powerful action. Especially during difficult times, they shine in this aspect of leadership. Top leaders can shift a team’s focus from “We can’t,” “I’m afraid,” or “This isn’t really important,” to “We can, we will, here’s why it’s important,” and “Here’s how we’ll get things done. Let’s get moving.”
7. Expect success, and create the work systems and support that make it possible, no matter what they’re faced with at the moment.
8. Communicate well. They seek, process, and provide information effectively.
Integrity, and being an inspiration to others cannot be “faked,” dictated, or added at the last minute, like a fresh coat of paint.
I’ll provide ideas in future posts about things you can do to increase your skills as an inspirational leader.