Years ago, I was a member of an executive team and got to witness firsthand the leadership styles of each person. It was a great case study on what not to do to get your tribe to follow you, and I had a front row seat.
One executive was a prolific visionary with an impressive resume. His Achilles heel was his
over-confidence arrogance. It came in the form of bravado, swagger, and positional authority that didn’t sustain its influence. After a while, people began to catch on that the outward brash was only skin deep. It was really all about him.
Confident leaders take a stand not because they think they’re always right, and use that to push their weight around, but because they aren’t afraid of being wrong! This takes a level of rarefied authenticity. The cocky and conceited leader that proclaims his position, and disregards differing opinions or points of view, is a leader that will have few followers, mostly out of intimidation. Typically they know they’re right – and they
want need you to know it too.
Reality check: This type of behavior does not signify confidence; it’s the sign of an intellectual bully.
Leaders with loyal followers are secure enough to back down graciously when being proven wrong. To them, it’s more important to find out what is right than being right. They will also often admit when they’re wrong, made a mistake, or don’t have all the answers. Intellectual bullies? Rarely the case.
Want to hear an insecure leader at work? Easy, just listen to their bragging—a mask for their insecurity. Confident leaders are unassuming and know what they think; they want to know what you think.
Practically speaking, they allow their followers the freedom to think and be part of the conversation; they ask curious questions, lots of questions: how something is done, what you (the employee) like about it, what you learned from it… and what you need to be better, more productive, efficient, etc, at work.
Leaders with loyal followers realize they know a lot, and seek to know even more… and they know the way to do that is to listen more.
Leaders with loyal followers don’t need the glory or seek validation; they understand what they’ve achieved. They shine the spotlight on others, then stand back and celebrate their accomplishments, which helps boost the confidence and trust of others.
Confident leaders are secure enough to admit weaknesses and when they need help. By asking for help that others may see as a weakness, a truly confident leader knows that when he gets help, he pays that other person a big compliment.
This leader stays away from gossip, or the need to speak badly of others in order to make themselves appear better by comparison. His only concern is to be a better person tomorrow than he was yesterday.
This leader breeds honesty and authenticity, will always admit their mistakes, and won’t mind occasionally “looking bad.” In fact, their confidence may even allow themselves to be the source of other people’s jokes at their expense, because they knows that when you’re authentic and unpretentious, others don’t laugh at you. They laugh with you.
There is an old proverb that goes like this:
Leaders with a loyal following seek advice or input from their trusted inner circle that will teach them, keep them on track, and move them in the right direction. These are the few mentors in their lives that truly matter, and they’ve earned their trust and respect! This same confidence knows that the people who truly matter the most will stand behind them.
Any true leader will first build trust with those they work closely with. In fact, it has been found that in healthy organizations, leaders with a servant-mindset are willing to give trust to their followers first, and they give it as a gift even before it’s earned.
Once you’ve invested in close relationships and built trust over time, these leaders will let their team members feel like they’re invested in the business. They give them ownership! When leaders engage their workforce in an entrepreneurial way, like owning your own small business, good things begin to happen. Your employee engagement will soar.
A true leader never flies solo or plays for the name on the back of his/her jersey. He/she will always acknowledge successes as a team effort. This leader understands human nature and will make it a priority to recognize people for their hard work, both in public and private. An employee that sees this leader in action not seeking self-glory, but building up others, will typically be more willing to follow that leader.
You want to know the definition of a fool? It’s someone in a leadership role who refuses to accept or look at feedback. A great leader doesn’t just put a team together, rolls out a program and leaves the scene. She constantly asks her employees for feedback about what’s working, and what’s not. She understands that to maintain a healthy culture, she has to keep her finger on the pulse.
At Leadership from the Core, our business is developing the types of leaders that people will willingly and enthusiastically follow! If this post struck a chord, subscribe below to receive a download link to a FREE 35-minute webinar….
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