leadersedge inc. blog
If you genuinely want to improve your ability to lead, you need to create a culture in which people feel comfortable giving you feedback. Unfortunately for many leaders, this is easier said than done. So, how can you ensure that your organization is a place where feedback can flow in all directions?
Leadership is all about communication, and communication is often all about finding the right balance: For leaders, this means knowing when to speak and when to listen, when to ask questions and when to give advice, when to convey a message directly and when to disseminate it through different channels. Perhaps most important for leaders is the balance they must try to strike between praise and criticism when offering feedback.
As a leader, you know that communication is the cornerstone of effective leadership. However, you must understand that communication is an ongoing process. It’s not about occasional conversations, either; it’s all about a continuous discussion that happens within your organization. And you must be the one to drive the dialogue. That means giving feedback regularly, in addition to being open to receiving feedback about your performance. That might seem scary, but if you want to take your leadership and your organization to the next level, it is crucial that you create a culture of feedback.
Being an authentic leader means remaining grounded in your values, beliefs and approaches, regardless of what the latest, untested conventional wisdom might say. Authentic leaders never leave their people guessing about where they stand or what they think is right. They have a way of rising above the fray and providing perspective that their team members thrive on. And they know they can always trust their internal compasses to guide them.
The reality is that “leader” is just a title. It does not magically confer special abilities or skills upon you. The title of “leader” describes a role. What is truly important is what you do once you have been given your role. Certainly, your identity should inform the actions you take as a leader. Your identity comes from years of demonstrating certain actions and characteristics while honing your values and worldview. These aspects of yourself are integral to who you are, and they should absolutely influence your actions. Unfortunately, sometimes it is all too easy for leaders to reverse the order of things.
For leaders, making assumptions is an essential part of the role. However, when leaders fill in the gaps of their understanding with assumptions instead of communication, it can lead to chain reactions of bad decisions and miscommunication. Effective leaders are smart, and they are multifaceted in their skill sets. Therefore, sometimes they can rely on their assumptions about situations being fairly accurate, but leaders are far from infallible. When they let their assumptions about behavior and scenarios take the place of communication, they cut themselves off from their people, which alienates the workforce and can drive engagement downward.
Although we find ourselves in the midst of the so-called “information age,” I believe we simultaneously exist in the “misinformation age.” Misconceptions, myths, misunderstandings and wrong assumptions are just as prominent today as facts in the general discourse. What is most insidious is that misinformation is often dressed up to seem plausible or factual when it could not be further from reality. And when it comes to leadership, misconceptions and myths can infect the minds of impressionable people, giving them a vision of leadership that is not conducive to engagement, enthusiasm or the continued development of future leaders.
Recently, I asked you what you want your leadership “why” to be. This may have seemed like a simple question. After all, every leader has a solid idea about “why” they want to lead, right? Well, one thing I’ve learned over the years in my role as a coach and leadership-development expert is that many leaders never explore why they want to lead. This is not a trivial concern or an intellectual exercise; knowing why you want to lead – and why you have felt a calling to a leadership career – is crucial to your success in your leadership role.