One of the questions that I am frequently asked is in regards to how we can measure the quality of our own leadership. While I do have a Leadership Self-Assessment that I have found to be a valuable tool in personal growth, I honestly think the answer to this question is very, very simple.
If you’ve heard me speak then you have heard me share the idea that leaders love verbs; we love being a part of the action, we love making things happen and we love getting things done. Yes, leaders love verbs. But leaders love verbs secondary only to the idea that leaders love their people.
There are others who love verbs too; micro-managers, narcissists, and sociopaths to name a few, but the reason leaders love verbs is because they love their people so much that they can’t imagine letting things remain the same for one more day. They literally wake up thinking, “how can I make things better for my people today?”
So the real measure of our leadership is this; how do I, in tangible and unconditional ways, love my people?
1. Who are your people? I often talk about the difference between positional power and relationship influence. People in positional power were selected, elected or hired for that position. As a result, those in positional power quickly discover that their power is dependent on the position they hold. If they lose their position they also lose their power. But the way I want you to think about leadership is in terms of relational influence which does not depend on a title, rank, authority or position. No one can give you relational influence and no one can take it away.
I like share the following example with teams … Imagine this… you have a teammate and that morning the person she was dating broke up with her, that afternoon she found out she failed her Biology midterm, and just before practice she got a text from her dad that said, “we got your credit card bill. We are coming to campus to talk about it this weekend. But let me be clear, you’ll be paying us back for every single penny you’ve spent.” And now your teammate arrives for practice, will her mood impact the team? (Eyes are usually wide open as their heads nod up and down.) And then I say, “but she’s not a Captain, not a Senior, and not a starter. Will her mood still impact the team?” (Again, eyes wide open as heads continue to nod up and down.) Why is this? Because she has relational influence, we all have it.
Who are the people who are impacted by your bad days? Those are the people you have relational influence with and the good news is, not only are they impacted by your bad days but also by your good days. There is no flowchart of hierarchy for relational influence. It is your choice to use your relational influence to love those around you.
2. How do you show your people you love them? Let me give you two very clear guidelines;
- It must be tangible.
- It must be unconditional.
If I were to ask you, “how do you love your people” and your answer was, “they just know, I love them and they know it” then I would say you are failing terribly as a leader. Your care and concern for your people has to be tangible.
It also has to be unconditional. We simply can not express our love for our people with any sort of self-serving agenda. There can be no strings attached. We can not serve others and then sit back and wonder how we can use it against them. Tangible and unconditional love for our people is our only option as leaders.
3. Make leadership a verb. There is no mandatory checklist of how to do this. No right or wrong way, but here are some general ideas of ways you can love your people …do the manual labor that others think is beneath you, bring donuts to morning meetings, invest in someone else’s professional development, ask about someone’s family and life outside of work, pick up the tab for lunch, write thank you cards to acknowledge the hard work you see in others, host a great holiday party, give others opportunities to advance in their career, publicly stand up for and support your people, give someone a book you know they will enjoy, show up at funerals, listen (really listen) to your people, send randoms texts of encouragement, celebrate birthdays, celebrate weddings, celebrate a new birth, celebrate the little things, celebrate a promotion, celebrate what matters to your people, give a gift card for no apparent reason, make a hospital visit, ask those who report to you to go home early, be the last person to eat, ask how you can help and then follow through with that request.
Great leaders love their people. Plain and simple. If you want to measure the quality of your own leadership then assess the tangible and unconditional ways that you love your people.
Great leaders love verbs secondary only to the idea that great leaders love their people. This is leadership. Period.
*If you are interested in your own leadership development or the development of the leaders around you then please reach out. We have programs for all ages.