Vey often my clients complain that the leadership at their company is failing them. In fact, I would say this is one of the number one complaints I get from women who come to me for help:
- "My boss is unapproachable and doesn't seem to value my expertise or contribution."
- "My supervisor doesn't know what the heck is going on and at the end of the day, I just don't trust them."
- "The leadership at my company seems out of touch and they lack clear vision for the work."
....and on and on and on.
The thing is that...I've. Totally. Been. There.
In my opinion, a company either thrives or dies based on the leadership at the top. In fact, there's often a clear trickle down effect from poor leadership. For example, if your boss appears confused, overwhelmed, uncommunicative, apathetic or toxic then look to the bosses on up the chain of command to see where the issue starts. If the company has a large employee turnover rate, look to the top. If a company isn't profiting or has a poor reputation, look to the top. Bad leadership normally isn't isolated and it typically points to something going wrong up the chain of command.
While most people learn what they know about leadership based on the poor leaders they've worked for, it's more important that you study what makes for great leadership. Below are five practices of exemplary leadership from my favorite leadership researchers, Kouzes and Posner, authors of The Leadership Challenge.
1. Model the way or be the example. You must walk the talk in order to be an effective leader. If you preach integrity and trust, then the integrity and trust you exhibit should be strong.
2. Inspire a shared vision. A shared vision requires buy-in, communication and collaboration with all members of the team and a leader is responsible for cultivating this vision.
3. Challenge the process. A great leader removes obstacles for her team and challenges the process along the way, insuring that efficiency and effectiveness are maximized.
4. Enable others to act. This means empowering your employees to do great work with the knowledge, tools and resources they need to succeed. How can you help your people be more successful?
5. Encourage the heart. At the end of the day, it's not enough to appeal to the logical, rational side of our brains, but also the emotional component that is heart-centered, passionate and inspired.
In the end, the only thing you can control is how you show up in the world. And maybe by exhibiting these practices of exemplary leadership you can effect change, one person and one company at a time.
For those of you who want help to become better leader, schedule a free consult on my calendar to see if I can help you strategize and make a plan.
And if you are one of the lucky ones who has a great leader to learn from, what about them do you admire and how can you incorporate that into your own work?