If you want to be a great boss and an inspiring leader, then follow these lessons
Lead with Kindness
In watching leaders deliver feedback to their teams, I saw the most successful feedback came from an authentic kindness within. This compassionate attitude was very evident as the leader spoke to staff. I could see the leader was very interested to enhance and help staff members progress to higher levels of success and performance deliveries on the job. Interestingly, they are also kind to themselves, in understanding that they can make errors—as shown by encouraging their teams to shoot holes in approaches they had suggested.
Maintain Honesty and Integrity
Honesty and integrity are integral to the organization’s health and security. Lead with integrity—it shows. I’ve watched leaders who had ample opportunities to turn onto darker, more subversive roads; however, they consciously chose to stay off negative pathways. Top leadership needs to encourage honesty and integrity by first being honest themselves.
Leaders need to accept oversight feedback and errors in judgment from their managers and supervisors, and funnel this approach down to others below. This attitude encourages self-awareness (something I keep reiterating in this book as a major key to success); where team members learn to understand themselves and their choices better, in watching you make one honest decision after another.
Know Your Core Team Members’ Strengths and Weaknesses
One leader taught me how vital it is in continuously building upon the strength of the company from knowing what teams are capable of, with the good, the bad, and the ugly. I watched him make quick judgments related to his leaders. He knew very quickly if stories from lower-level staff were true, based on knowing who his team members truly were; and what they could or could not have done.
You Can’t Pick and Choose What You Want to Acknowledge and What You Want to Ignore
Many leaders avoid dealing with complicated or uncomfortable issues. It somehow makes them feel that acknowledging unsavory issues makes them a worse or weaker leader. But, it doesn’t work this way. Choosing to only deal with (or deal with as priority) issues of a positive nature and ignoring problems or putting them off to another day is counter-productive for every business.
One company leader I know is desperate to come into her office each morning to deal with what she calls “the dirt” first – to get it out of the way for the rest of her day to be more pleasant. Her assistant separates all of her appointments and documents to review into “morning” and “afternoon” categories; morning is for “sifting through the dirt.”
Do Not Sugarcoat to Win Trust
One leader was very adamant to not sugarcoat challenging issues in front of his staff. He told me that when you sugarcoat or gloss over situations, employees can see what the real issues are. When they are aware that you’re hiding visible issues, it makes them trust you less. I watched as he revealed details to his team that other leaders wouldn’t have done, in an honest manner.
Over the years, I have seen how much trust and respect he has garnered from his staff – due to his being transparent and honest. He wasn’t revealing every single detail to the staff, but enough big-picture directions were transparent to gain trust and ensure that staff isn’t functioning in a culture filled with doubt and uncertainty.
Excerpted from Smoke and Mirrors: Strategic Self-Awareness for Leaders and Future Leaders by Elizabeth Dulberger.