Corporations keep scorecards, much like statistics on the players in football or baseball. Profitability, sales, new client acquisition, employee retention and position within the market are easy to quantify. But leadership, one of the most important elements in any business, is more challenging to measure and get accurate feedback on. One thing is certain, when a company lacks authentic leadership, you can almost hear the value of that enterprise land with a crash in the marketplace. Enron showed us the way and we’ll not even start on just how long it’s taking for people to regain confidence in the banking sector.
In defining a leader, John Maxwell says that if no one follows your leadership, then you aren’t really leading, “You are just out talking a walk.” Having your name on the door of the ‘executive suite’ doesn’t make you a leader.
Somewhere in every successful organisation are authentic leaders. This person might have a lesser title or no title, but demonstrates true leadership by motivating and inspiring workers. Proving that just because a leader has a title and even the authority it doesn’t mean that they’ll have people follow them.
Without a doubt, motivation and inspiration are key ingredients in authentic leadership. As is being true to who you are and what’s important to you.
You can’t give to others what you don’t possess for yourself – to attempt to do so is phony and quickly seen for what it is. A leader needs to clearly articulate the corporate values to every employee. Values don’t arrive by memo but by example. Given the expressed values of the organisation you work for – how many of those do you embody and how much do you see them reflected back in others?. If it’s truly important to the leaders of the organisation then you’ll see them embody it in their behaviour, actions and decision making. All too often I get to see the disconnection, and this has a very real cost.
During his years leading the Disney empire, Michael Eisner took regular walks around the theme parks to see things from the viewpoint of a visitor. Imagine the amazement on the faces of young maintenance workers when they saw Eisner stop to pick up trash. He led by example, showing that he was not too important or too busy to do what he asked of his employees at all levels.
Authentic leaders care as deeply about the employees on the shop floor as they do the directors in the boardroom. They realize that titles are what people do, but not who they are. With that understanding, the authentic leader goes about treating each employee as an important player on the larger team.
To keep leadership skills sharp and infuse the corporation with fresh ideas, great leaders are lifelong learners. They invest in their development, this could be reading a book, attending a course or mixing with those whose qualities they aspire to embody. They’re also interested in feedback from all levels within the organisation and from contacts outside.
Do you know how authentic you are at work? How much of yourself do you really show in your leadership, and how are you perceived? You could ask, and if they trust you, they’ll tell you. Then again you could invest in a 360 values based feedback assessment, a powerful and insightful process. It tells you how authentic you really are, what your strengths are, what they’d like you to improve and your range of flexibility in styles of leadership. If like many top leaders, you’re thinking about next years growth and not just this year, this process will give you vital information. To find out how this could help you specifically, call us.