What does being a good leader look like?
We have all had different experiences with different leaders. Some are motivating, some make us nervous, some are discouraging, and just plain frustrating to work with. If you are looking to be a better leader, or are new to the role of leader Here are some things to keep in mind.
I want to share the most common answers I get when asking people to think about a leader who had huge positive impact. I ask about someone who motivated you to do your best, and reach your goals. I ask about qualities and actions of this leader that influenced influence you so heavily?
“They really saw me for who I was and what I could bring to the table”.
People value when their leaders see them as individuals. It is a given that most people are looking to be recognized, but that can be interpreted in many different ways. What people think about when disusing an inspiring leader is that they take the time to evaluate skills, motivation, and opportunities (aka weaknesses). Great leaders have the ability to strategically place people where they will have the most success. Sometimes it is a process to identify someone’s value before finding the right fit within a role, an organization, or team. This especially true if someone has been initially placed in a position that was not a good fit, but can add value somewhere else.
“They really invested time in me”.
People value when their leaders spend time with them. When leaders spend time with their employees, they know they are being developed in those moments. It’s so much more than receiving feedback and direction. The side notes taken during the time people spend with their leaders are things like was the leader present, were they positive, when did they get frustrated? In these moments employees are learning through the example being set. What is being absorbed are things like how to solve problems, how to interact, and how to make people feel.
“They pushed me to do more.”
The fondest recollection I come across is people remembering the leader that was hard on them. The best memories of a good leader are of the one who didn’t accept settling. The most a valuable experience is not remembered when the words “Good Job” are commonly used. Rather, “they saw the potential in me, knew I was capable, and pushed me out of my comfort zone.” Along those lines, a leader that sets people up for success, and then pushes while providing support. The leader who helped make it the success happen is remembered just as much as success itself.
“I always knew what was expected of me.”
So many times a leader and an employee walk away from a meeting thinking the priorities and goals discussed are aligned, and it is not the case. Great leaders are consistently remembered as giving clear expectations and goals. When giving goals and assignments, successful leaders get feedback from everyone on their understanding of the expectations before setting out to get things done.
I love all of these thoughts because they are not about making people feel warm and fuzzy or being told good job, or remembering to tell people, “Good Job.” The idea is about investing time and being hands on with your team. When leaders are intentional about pointing their team in the right direction they are more often to succeed and people find the reward with the success. It takes a lot of time to invested in your people, but the payoff is always worth it.
“They made work fun.”
The value of encouraging people to enjoy themselves at work goes a long way. There is always room for appropriate fun. Whether it is making the challenge at hand fun by creating a contest, or just taking an afternoon for ice-cream Sundays when a stressful deadline had been met. This is another thing that people take with them.