While many who enter into management and leadership roles want to be genuinely liked by the workers they supervise, seeking popularity for its own sake can be a dead-end path. Many have tried to lead while seeking popularity only to find that, indeed, they are loved but not respected. Becoming a more likable leader does not mean you have to sacrifice respect. However, being a likable leader and a respected boss does mean you have to learn to be more effective.
This10-part blog series will help you take the first steps on what will be a continuous journey towards becoming a more effective leader, the side effects of which are both likability.
Part 2: Leadership as a Service.
Whether you prefer a direct, authoritative leadership style, a laisse-faire style, or something in between, one factor that can truly enhance your effectiveness in leadership is to see yourself as serving the needs of your employees, colleagues, and team...even as you serve the needs of your company or organization. Often these two sets of needs will coincide. The needs of your teammates are the needs of a well-run organization as well. When they do contradict, seeing yourself as a kind of servant to your employees can help you to better weigh your priorities in both the long and short terms.
There are many great books and articles on the topic “servant leadership.” One of my favorites is “Jesus on Leadership” by C. Gene Wilkes. In his book, Wilkes outlines a model of servant leadership that can be applied today no matter your religious beliefs. You'll find that demonstrating these basic character principles and reflecting on my key questions will greatly enhance your effectiveness as a leader at work, in your home, and in your community.
#1: Humble your heart. Are you a living example of humility? Does pride, arrogance and ego impact your actions? Are you willing to admit your mistakes or weaknesses?
#2: First be a follower. How do others see you as a follower? Do others see you supporting your leaders and the common purpose (mission)? As a result, who is “willingly” following you?
#3: Find greatness in service. How are you demonstrating greatness by serving? As a leader, are you willing to come down and join the front lines to serve? Are you a role-model that guides your followers toward your vision? Are you available and vulnerable?
#4: Take risks. Do you have confidence (not arrogance) in yourself to serve others no matter what others think? How do you risk your status and position to serve others?
#5: Take up the towel. How willing are you to put your own status and needs aside to care for the needs of others? Are you willing to do a “lowly” task if necessary? Are you willing to serve those who may not respect or like you? Or even those who betray you?
#6: Share responsibility and authority. Do you equip others to share responsibility and authority? How are you developing people to grow and learn? What are their needs? How are you equipping them for service?
#7: Build a team. How do you serve the team? How do you involve others in a shared goal or task? What actions have you taken to create a sense of togetherness? Are you holding members of your team accountable? Do teammates look at you as a mentor? Oh by the way, who is your mentor or coach? (Yes, leaders need mentors and coaches too.)
Allow me to offer some additional points on serving from my experiences that will increase your likability and effectiveness as a leader:
Know Your Employees
Regardless of which organizational structure you employ, to lead effectively it helps to know your employees on a personal and professional level. Obviously, with larger corporations, the former is more difficult than the latter, but taking the time to get to know and care for your employees as people can help inform your decision making in ways that not only affect employee morale but also help in crafting more effective approaches. If you understand what it is like to work on the front lines, you can better address problems in such a way that does not create additional problems. Keeping abreast of what goes on in your employees’ lives will prove valuable in addressing each person as an individual.
Genuine Empathy and the Power to Lead
My experience is that when my leaders genuinely understand where I'm coming from, they are able to know exactly what to do or say to get the best results from me. This requires developing your own capacity for empathy. Here are some suggestions for developing your empathy:
• Listen. You may not always understand where an employee is coming from. Even the most creative and open minded of people can fail to grasp another individual’s unique circumstances. Consequently, the only way you can understand where others are coming from is by listening to them. Listening in this sense is not merely listening to the words a person says, but listening for the underlying needs that the person may be expressing even while failing to articulate this.
• Validate. Particularly in times where people seem far apart in their beliefs, it’s really easy to look at a person with whom you disagree and see an enemy. However, we all have the capacity to feel the same types of emotions, whether these are fear, anger, or joy. We also all have the same basic needs. When you try to recognize that beneath any disagreement are two people who need love and respect, it’s not so easy to see someone you disagree with as the enemy.
• Consider your own attitude. When you find yourself in a disagreement with someone else, ask yourself what you want from the interaction. Do you want to see the other person punished? Is this about winning or being right? Wanting to see another person punished presumes that you know best, a dangerously arrogant attitude, especially from a leader, who should be looking to serve employees.
• Suspend your own viewpoint. When you are trying to understand another person’s feelings, your own point of view isn’t a necessary perspective. In fact, it gets in the way of seeing another’s point of view. Remember that suspending your views is not the same as dropping them or changing them. Your viewpoint will still be there if you still need it.
When you model leadership as a service, you will absolutely achieve greater respect from the people you serve...your team, your staff, your customers, and your family. Next week in Part 3 of this series, I’ll address the importance of “Leadership by Design.”
What are your thoughts? Feel free to leave your comments.
All leaders need a coach to help with leadership development. I’d welcome the opportunity to be your coach. For a free complimentary coaching session, connect with me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.bathomascoaching.com/contact.