One of the many things that all good leaders have in common is they have the respect and admiration of those around them and being acutely aware of the responsibility that they carry. Yet, becoming a ‘good’ leader can be so elusive. In this post I’m going to share my 6 Simple daily actions to be a respected leader with you.
The ‘usual’ way we learn about leadership is to go to University. After a few years we walk away with a piece of paper that says we know about leadership. There are thousands of books on the market on the subject too. Heck, if you want to learn about leadership just buy a book. There is nothing wrong with either of the above. I’ve done both things. However, you might not feel you are looked upon by your peers as a leader?
‘A learned man is he who improves in good actions every day’
Many years ago, I came across a saying that has stuck with me ever since; ‘A learned man is he who improves in good actions every day’. In my interpretation; the most effective technique for successful leadership is to improve YOUR own actions. What actions I hear you say? Smiling, humility, courtesy, respect, be calm and most importantly of all being mindful that your most important assets are YOUR people. Nothing, good or bad, can happen without them!
OK, now you’re confused. Aren’t leaders meant to be hard-nosed, always pushing for the facts, are too busy for subtleties and any good leader worth their salt knows that being ‘nice’ is a sign of weakness! In business you sometimes you have to make hard decisions and emotions just get in the way? This is akin to something that a manager, as opposed to a leader, would say and practice.
6 Simple daily actions to be a respected leader
Here are my 6 Simple daily actions to be a respected leader. These actions are in effect behaviours and as with most behaviours it takes dedication, time and practice to perfect them. Here are some tips to help you get started.
1. Smile: Probably the easiest physical action that we can perform. It also has many other scientifically proven benefits. Yet to achieve an impactful smile means that it has to be sincere otherwise you can come across a little odd. The starting point of a sincere smile is to know who you are and that you are content with yourself. Once achieved your smile will convey your feelings of contentment and peace, creating an environment that others feel safe stepping into
2. Have humility: The power of humility is underrated in the modern world. It is understood even less. When your teams ‘see’, from your authentic actions, that their needs have been heard and understood, they are more likely to go that extra mile as the ‘win’ is for the collective and not for the sole benefit of any one individual
3. Be courteous: The impact of courtesy is appreciation and sets the building blocks for effective working relationships. It demonstrates that you are considerate of other people and you are comfortable putting other people’s needs before your own. It also shows awareness and appreciation of when a colleague has done something for you. Saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ connects with people at a human level. There is a risk of overdoing it and being disingenuous which can immediately undo all your genuine efforts in a flash
4. Be respectful: Respect is something that you need to earn rather than command. A good leader will never expect respect based solely on their job title. They will be consistent, authentic and congruent in their behaviours and practice what they preach
5. Be calm: Nobody likes to see a leader panic. What they want is to know that their leader is approachable and capable of hearing any message – good or bad. Being calm demonstrates self-awareness and capability for thinking under stressful situations and making the right decisions to fix problems. A good leader is someone who most people turn to when they are in need of guidance and help
6. Know your people are your most important asset: I’m amazed that even today so many managers don’t fully appreciate this concept. Just because you say your people are important doesn’t mean to say that they are important. It’s actions that demonstrate your convictions. In my experience the single biggest tip here is the ability for effective listening. It’s surprising how good your team will feel when they know that they have been heard
There are numerous studies on what leadership is; for me it’s about how we make people feel
In my experience it’s the simple things in life that can have the biggest impact. You might have read the above and thought ‘it’s all a little simple?’. I’m sure that after you’ve spent time reflecting on this post you’ll see that whilst it sounds simple enough, sustaining these behaviours can be difficult. There are numerous studies on what leadership is; for me it’s about how we make people feel, about gaining trust and having self-confidence to be authentic at all times.
The idea is not for you to focus on any one individual element of my 6 Simple daily actions to be a respected leader – it’s about being congruent, consistent and genuinely authentic. I’d love to hear about your thoughts on leadership and what has worked well for you to improve your leadership skills?
About the author
Abdul Ghani is founder and director at Exceed Excellence. Abdul has twenty years experience of hands on Lean implementation, project and change management. He is an improvement coach and an inspirational leader with multi-sector continuous/quality improvement expertise.
Abdul’s key strengths are seeing through complexity to create improvement actions and to quickly establish rapport and trust with stakeholders. Abdul has project managed and delivered improvement programmes and mentored / coached staff, at all levels, through major transformation programmes. Click here to get in touch.
About Exceed Excellence
Exceed Excellence works with organisations to improve operational excellence capability to deliver high quality, right cost and right time services / products for their customers. We achieve this by working with you to improve the skills, productivity and capability of your most valuable resource – your people!
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