If you think you’re leading and nobody is following, maybe you’re just taking a walk. ~ Chinese Proverb
That Chinese Proverb is always great for a chuckle during a leadership workshop. But the truth is, if you’re the one who’s leading with no one following, there’s nothing funny about it. Building trust, creating influence and growing as a leader is a process – there’s no quick fix or easy answer. But there are steps you can take to move down that path.
Here’s what I know about leadership. First, people do what people see. If you want people to behave a certain way, you – as the leader – have to behave that way. Secondly, it’s always easier to tell someone else where they need to improve than to be honest about our own shortcomings. [bctt tweet=”Here’s what I know about leadership. People do what people see.”]
I want to help you in both of these areas today. I’ve got a 30-day challenge that will help you identify areas where you can begin growth to build influence with your team, earn respect and get your team on board with your mission, vision, values and priorities.
Let’s look at three exercises that can help you identify where you are, where you want to be and how to start moving in that direction:
- Identify your authentic strengths. Grab a piece of paper (or your phone, laptop or tablet) and start making a list. Create an inventory of your strengths. When you’ve written down what you believe to be your true strengths, ask others what they believe your strengths are. Talk to those your lead, your peers, those above you. Ask your family and friends. Ask other people in your professional life. Use their answers to really hone your list of natural strengths.
- Identify the behaviors or traits that most inspire those you lead. Make a second list of these traits. You may think you already know the answer (and you might), but take the time to talk to the people around you. Ask your team, but also ask your peers, your boss, your family and friends. Ask them to tell you about the leader who most inspired them – and WHY. Create a list of the traits or behaviors they talk about when they answer. Listen to the stories, and see how those traits fit into the context of the story. (If you need inspiration, I recommend John C. Maxwell’s book The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader. It’s a great starting point to help refine the questions you’re asking.)
- Identify the behaviors and traits that you want to eliminate in your team. On this final list, create two columns: one for the traits and behaviors currently exhibited by your team that you would like to eliminate and the other for the opposite, positive trait that you’d like to see exhibited by your team. For example, if your team deflects and makes excuses, the opposite trait might be accountability and ownership. Again, it’s ok to ask your team and those around you for input.
Once you have created your three lists, compare them. Look for common themes. What traits showed up on List 2 that are also your natural strengths on List 1? Which strengths on List 1 show up on the positive side of List 3?
Here’s the 30-day challenge: Choose 3 – 5 traits or behaviors from your common themes and commit to modeling those behaviors as a leader. Write them down somewhere you will see them every day. As you go through your day, model those behaviors and pay attention to the changes in your team. Some may be subtle; some may be dramatic. At the end of each day, spend a few minutes reflecting on how you did that day: which behaviors did you successfully model, which were challenging (and why), what impact did your behavior have on those around you?
Leaders are intentional about magnifying the behaviors and traits they think will make a difference. For at least the next 30 days, become intentional about modeling the behaviors you want to build in your team. [bctt tweet=”Leaders are intentional about magnifying the behaviors and traits they think will make a difference.”]
I can’t wait to hear about your journey through this process. Leave a comment and let me know what behaviors you’re modeling. If you’ve been through a similar process before, share how it worked for you and how it helped your leadership growth.