Leadership puts us on a public stage where our worst, as well as our best service, is on display. The places where we are not at our best may stand out to us in greater contrast and pinpoint areas for our ongoing development.
Who we are is how we lead. How we lead expresses who we are. As we watch our leadership responses over time, we hopefully notice a change. We become better at listening before speaking, less quick to jump the chain of command, slower to react, etc.
When describing the best and worst leaders they’ve worked for, people often tell me about those who have used their position to serve others or themselves.
If you want to be a better leader, you must turn from self-serving ways and learn the role of sacrifice.
Here a few ways in which we are asked to sacrifice the lesser good of our personal response for the greater good of a leadership response in order to support our own and our organization's credibility.
We lose the right to respond personally.
When an employee is being aggressive, we give up an in-kind reaction, take the high road, and model the behaviors we expect from the employee. This moves organizational values off the paper into the culture our leadership creates.
We give up the right to hide.
Whether we are looking up or down our company’s org. chart, if we see a problem, we owe our organization and its people our voice. You know you’re being courageous if you’re feeling scared as you step forward to face difficulty.
We sacrifice our individual identity.
We represent our organization and all others on our leadership team by our actions. At the Hilton, if a hotel room should have been cleaned but wasn’t, any maid on the scene is a representative of the Hilton organization. At that moment, her leadership requires her to give up the right to say, “Not my job.” She must respond as if it were, whether she was assigned to clean that room or not.
We sacrifice our opinions and preferences.
Once an organizational decision is made, we represent it as if it were our own. We sell it to our people and gain their ownership of it. If we express doubts, we are undermining an organizational decision and creating a set-up for waste and divided leadership. If you have an issue with a decision, refer to the earlier sacrifice of giving up the right to hide.
There are many other examples of required leadership sacrifices. Most may not be as easy to spot or as simple to live up to as they may sound here. We catch these opportunities sometimes only after they have passed. Not to worry, they will come around again and give us another chance to get it right. The challenges are persistent and opportunities for leadership growth abound if we are willing to sacrifice our egos to capture them.
- Think of the best person you've worked for. How did they behave that made them the best?
- Do the same for the weakest manager you've worked for.
- Now for some obvious questions:
- Which one brought out your abilities?
- Attracted your best service?
- Cared about you?
- Made you care?
- Brought the best results to the company?
- Gap analysis
- Ask yourself, "What do I want my people to know and believe about me through my behavior?
- If there is a gap, identify it and create an intention for change so you can shift an inferior response to a superior one.
- Now, practice, practice, practice.
- Be patient with yourself as you move in and out of success with your intention.
- Your persistence will drive growth and it will build a culture of willingness around you.
- You can become the leader your people think of when they talk about the "Best leader I've worked for".
At Living As A Leader, we offer a Leadership Development Series designed to produce leaders that can positively shape the cultural environment, reduce turnover and achieve crucial business initiatives. We do this by providing training, coaching and consulting with a focus on pragmatic communication tools for leaders at all levels of your organization.
For more information, contact Steph Kotlarek at firstname.lastname@example.org