“Make a difference about something other than yourselves.” —Toni Morrison
By Elizabeth Stincelli, DM
Time to Evaluate
As we approach the end of the year, what a great time to evaluate the difference that our leadership is making. The difference I am talking about is not on the bottom line, it’s in the lives of your employees. Do they look to you for direction? Do they know you have their back? Do they feel that you value them as individuals? Does your leadership last in your absence? Maybe it’s time to hone some of your leadership behaviors.
Communication is one of the most powerful forces in leadership. Yehuda Berg explained, “Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate, and to humble.” How would your employees rate your communication? Your ability to communicate openly and effectively determines how well you connect with others. This ability consists not only of how well you speak, but how well you listen. Are your communications inclusive? Do you approach your conversations with curiosity and engagement? Show employees that you value their input by asking and expressing appreciation for their opinions. Listen with the intent to understand; acknowledge your own biases and keep them in check. When you, as a leader, communicate well, your organization will be more efficient, your employees will give their best efforts, and you will have a stronger culture with higher morale.
Estelle Parsons said, “It is so important to get respect for what you do and at the same time give it.” Is there mutual respect in your organization? Estelle’s quote applies to your employees as well as yourself. As a leader, it is so important that you acknowledge, respect, and appreciate the contributions that each of your employees make to the success of the whole. Show that you are interested and see value in each of them as individuals. Tune into their needs and invest your time and energy to their development. Show that you respect their ideas by inviting them to challenge your thinking. Respect your employees enough to be authentic and open with them. Be willing to share your wisdom, but also to learn from their experiences and knowledge.
How courageous are you as a leader? Robert Green Ingersoll believed, “The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart.” Do you have the courage to stand behind the right decisions made by either you or your employees? Your employees need to know that you have their back. As a leader, you must also have the courage to seek new opportunities and challenge the status quo. You must admit your faults but not let your failures discourage you. Show enough confidence to make the tough decisions while sticking to your core values. Have the courage to let your employees see that you are open to constructive criticism and new challenges.
Mattie Stepanek explained, “Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration wonderful things can be achieved.” As a leader, don’t just dictate what is to be done, use collaboration to help your team come up with the best solutions. Do you anticipate the needs of your employees and are you proactive in meeting them? When you give your employees the tools they need and put the right people in the right roles, as Mattie said, wonderful things can be achieved. Engage and encourage employees to actively participate in organizational improvements and decision-making. Set an example by placing the good of the whole above your own. Be transparent and keep team members well-informed. Foster debate and value differing opinions throughout your organization. And, make sure you develop a vision that your employees can buy into and work toward together.
Making a Difference
If you want to make an impact as a leader, make a difference in the lives of your employees. Use communication as a means for sharing your wisdom with others while showing curiosity and appreciation for their opinions, skills, and knowledge. Develop mutual respect. Have the courage to stand behind your employees 100%. Encourage collaboration to achieve wonderful things. Engage in these leadership behaviors and you will be making a leadership difference.
© 2014 Elizabeth Stincelli
Elizabeth Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the CEO of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations engage employees and improve organizational culture. Elizabeth holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.
Learn more about Elizabeth by visiting her website, stincelliadvisors.com and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.