Practical Ways to Elevate Your Leadership Identity
The greatest failure of most leadership is accepting the status quo. Your leadership needs to evolve because how people want to be led changes. The problems facing leaders are changing, and new solutions are required to solve them. You have to work on your leadership identity with intention and purpose.
As a leader, you have to live to a different standard. You have to set the standard and be the example. To inspire others, you have to meet them where they are while encouraging them to step up and be more. You can only do this when you continuously refine your leadership identity.
People love it when you smile. Before a meeting, think of something that brings happy thoughts that will make you smile. Smiling is contagious and makes people feel better. When a leader is smiling, people feel safer and comfortable. When you smile, make sure it is genuine, they will know the difference.
Show up dressed to lead
Clothes don’t make the leader, but they do make a difference. The first thing people notice about you is your appearance. Your clothes, jewelry, hair, makeup should convey your performance. When you look like a leader in your dress and demeanor, even before you are, people will perceive you as such sooner. The acceptance of business casual doesn’t mean it’s always acceptable to dress casually.
Leadership, at its core, is about influence, and the foundation to influence is trust. If you aren’t trusted, you cannot influence. Cultivating trust requires competence and character. Make sure what you are saying and doing demonstrates your ability and integrity. Deliver on what you say you will and avoid over-promising.
Build a real team
The glue the binds a team together is a common and compelling purpose based on shared values. A real team is one who believes they will succeed or fail together and that no one individual can win if the team loses. Establish rules of engagement and make sure everyone has a clear understanding of how they are expected to work together.
Build your network
Leaders seek support, collaboration, and guidance from a variety of people. Building a network of diverse people who are at various stages of their careers is an advantage. Think bigger than today’s current needs, and make sure your network can help support your long-term goals.
Don’t just care about your people inside your head. Let it out and let them see you care. You can do this with morning greetings, saying thank you, and taking an interest in what they do both inside and outside of work. Learn about their family and find out what is important to them. More importantly, show them you care by giving them your time and sharing your knowledge.
Prune early and often
You have to get coach people up or out. If you are doing your job, you will coach people to be ready for the next step in their career. Conversely, if someone isn’t a fit for the team or role they are in, it is your job to coach them out to somewhere they can prosper.
Invest more in the hiring process
Hiring is the most important job you have. If you hire right, you won’t have to prune as much later. Spend time training others to interview and make sure the job description matches the reality of the job. Have interview questions that uncover if someone is the right fit for the technical requirements as much as for the culture.
Increase your passion by setting out to do something significant
You have to be energized by something great to be a great leader. Stop settling for the status quo. Challenge the way things have always been. Create lofty goals and have high ideals of a bigger and better future state. Find your significant something, then light your match to create a passion explosion.
Polish your communication skills
Everything a leader accomplishes comes from being able to communicate with others. A leader has to communicate the vision, communicate feedback, and communicate changes in direction. Polish your communication skills to ensure everyone has a clear understanding of the who, what, when, where, and why of your vision.
Go larger than life on meaning
Meaning and purpose foster engagement. Most employees value jobs that let them contribute and make a difference. Incentives will only work to a degree and will always work with employees who just aren’t committed. Go bigger by inspiring them with the vision, challenge them with goals, and always inflate their confidence to the point where they believe they can really win.