If you don’t know what you stand for and where you’re going, why would anyone want to follow you? If you’re not an inspiring role model, you won’t motivate others to work towards your vision and goals. You need to know who you are as a leader and what you stand for. Then you can be clear in your messages, both verbal and non-verbal.
You don’t have to be the stereotypical ‘hero’ to be a leader. You don’t have to be highly dominant and outgoing, way ahead of the pack. Leaders can be effective leading from within or from the back, in the style of the ‘Servant Leader’. This quote from Lao Tzu sums up leadership:
“The bad leader is he who people despise. The good leader is he who people revere. The great leader is he who people say, we did it ourselves.”
Answer these 4 questions and you will clarify what you stand for as a leader.
1. How would you describe yourself at work?
(give at least 5 descriptors)
Think about how you behave in the workplace, how would you want others to describe you? Now think about colleagues, bosses, team members – how would they describe you? Do you honestly think that others would agree with your self-description? If not, what could you do to ensure their view of you and your own view overlap as much as possible?
2. What are you passionate about at work?
Think about what you love doing. What goals or causes at work are you enthusiastic about? Think about the things that excite and motivate you and where you would most like to focus your energy.
3. What would be your ideal work environment?
What does it look, sound and feel like? Describe what is happening. What do you see around you in this environment – physically and in people’s behaviours? Detail the atmosphere. What kind of work teams are there? How is effective communication and work enabled? What else about this work environment is important?
4. Fast-forward to your retirement or leaving do, what are people saying about you?
Speakers at your leaving do are highlighting what? What is the legacy you are most proud of? Imagine you are a fly on the wall and can hear people’s conversations, what are they saying about you?
Pull all this together to summarise what you want to stand for as a leader.
When you read that statement, how do you feel? Does it feel like it fits you well or do you feel uncomfortable? If it fits you well, you’re done, unless you want to fine-tune the statement. But if you feel uncomfortable, ask yourself what specifically doesn’t feel right. Then adjust your summary statement accordingly until you have what feels right.
This activity will help clarify who you currently are at work and if there is anything about your current behaviour you would like to adjust to be the leader you want to be.
Test your statement with people you know well who will give you honest feedback. Check that it resonates well with them and if not, ask for specific feedback to help you to craft your statement. Remember this is your statement of what you stand for, so it is most important that it feels right to you. Other people will have different perceptions and they won’t always match yours. So don’t stray from what feels right to you.
Who you are as a leader is not fixed. Your experiences as a leader will continue to shape who you are. If you start your journey with a clear image of the leader you want to be, you will find you become that leader. When you have no idea of who you could be as a leader, you will be shaped by circumstance and that may limit your potential.
Look around you and you will see people in leadership positions that you don’t count as good role models, don’t let yourself fall into that position. Strive to be the best leader you can be. Get clear now on who you are and what you stand for and build your leadership on strong foundations.
When you use these questions, I would love to hear your comments on how they help you. Please leave questions or comments below.
About the author
Amanda Bouch is an experienced leadership and management coach, trainer and speaker. She helps managers become confident leaders, build strong teams and deliver business results. Please contact ABC for a complimentary consultation on your situation.