The ability to leverage the talents and abilities of those around you is the hallmark of powerful leadership. Being a leader is not about you. It is ALL about how you engage, empower, focus and ultimately liberate the talents and abilities of others. After all, you can be an effective individual performer just focusing on your skills and insights. However, to be a leader means to generate followership, while being a strong leader requires creating conditions and ways of working with others that results in highly effective followers. The effectiveness of your followers determines the effectiveness of your leadership.
Some Questions for You:
How effectively are you liberating the motivation and mobilizing the abilities of others? How avidly are people willing to follow your insights and direction? Do you have a high level of engagement from those around you? How effective are you at influencing your direct supervisor-if he/she willing to “follow” your lead at times? If you don’t have anyone following your guidance and directions then you could certainly be a hero but you are NOT being a leader. The quality of your followership determines the quality of your leadership. If you have been in charge of an area, department or team for nine months or more and you are dissatisfied with them or their performance, then please go look in the mirror and you will see the real problem staring back at you. You “own” the team, the department and the people if you have been the “leader” for more than nine months. Your “followers” both those reporting to you, those peers around you and the supervisor above you, after nine months are merely a reflection of how effectively you are engaging them and leading up, out and down. If you are delighted with what you have and the working relationships then great! How will you build on that and grow to leverage it even more for the greater good of the team, department and organization?
If you are less than delighted then you need to ask yourself the following questions:
“What is the one thing that I am doing that is getting in the way of being more effective and gaining greater influence with others?” “What is the one thing I am NOT doing that I need to start doing if I want to generate greater followership?” “What is the one thing I am thinking, perceiving or doing that limits my reach and effectiveness as a leader overall?” “What is the one thing that is missing that if I added to my leadership thinking and behaving would make the biggest positive difference?” If you are asking these questions and are uncertain than a simple, powerful process that is STATE-OF-THE-ART can really help. The process is called: “Using Power Questions and Active Listening to Discover HOW to Really Engage Those Around You.” You use your mind, your heart, your mouth and your ears and people will tell you what you need to change, to start or stop doing or to do differently in order to generate greater followership. Doing so will make you a far more effective leader. By the way, you can use these, with slight modifications at home to improve your marriage, your love life and your parenting. See the suggested process steps in the Call to Action below:
Call to Action:
Make use of Active Listening and the Big 3 Power Questions to gain critical insight into those you wish to influence. Here is what I recommend-Ask each person one-on-one and / or a group or team:
- What is the ONE thing I am currently doing that you want me to make sure I continue to do that is most helpful / effective for you? Why that one-what does it do for you?
- What is the ONE thing that is missing or that I could change in my leadership behaviors that would be most helpful to you if I were to add it or change it? Why that one-what would it do for you?
- What is the ONE thing I could do to best support you or the team to be even more successful?Why that one-what would it do to help generate greater success?
As you are asking these questions make sure you are using good Active Listening skills…
Reflect on what you are hearing, ask follow up questions, show that you have heard them and thank them for sharing their thoughts, insights and perspectives with you. Please make sure your tone is positive, appreciative and engaging even if some of the input is hard to hear. You can even say, “This is hard to hear and I will work on digesting it and making use of your insights. Thank you for having the courage and consideration to share this with me. Give me some time to fully take this in and work out my best response and plan for moving forward.”
You are ONLY as good as a leader as the followership you are engendering. Are you courageous enough to be even stronger and more effective? Are you committed to learning more about those around you, your supervisor, your peers, and your direct reports in order to become a more effective leader? Only you have the power to make the required changes, but you cannot do it alone. You need the inputs, insights, perspectives, thoughts and feelings of those around you, both at work as well as at home.