I get a little concerned when leaders complain about being lonely at the top. My question is always, why are you at the top alone? Surely it would be a better vantage point being at the bottom cheering on your followers as they pass you on the way up. A leader needs people to help them reach their goals but the leader needs to create the environment for the people to grow develop, thrive and even do greater things than the leader ever can.
I’m learning that success tastes much better when you take people with you. There’s nothing worse than getting to the top at something and looking down and wondering where everybody went.
If you’re a leader it’s vital that you at least be likeable! Does that mean that everyone will agree with everything you do? No, of course it doesn’t. But being likeable goes a long way when you’re a leader because when you’re likeable people want to be with you and do things for you.
So how can you be more likeable?
Be genuinely interested in the lives of others around you. When last did you just inquire how your colleague or employee is feeling? Not to give advice but just to be a listening ear? Well as a leader this is important. Try leaving your desk and taking a walk around and finding out something interesting you didn’t know about your employee or team member.
Listen to Understand. Very few people listen with the intent to understand. Why? Because they’re too busy thinking about their next response in the conversation. As a leader you have to delay the addiction to respond. Take time to listen and pause so that you can truly hear what your team members are requesting and voicing.
Grow your Awareness. This is important because as a leader you get great results if you spend time learning the unspoken gestures and discerning the relational atmosphere of your team. Learn to pick up on when things are tense, when things are going well, when people need attention and motivation.
Give Feedback and Affirmation. How many times have you heard team members say that they had no idea what was happening until the task was implemented and they were just told to implement it? This is a bad move as a leader because people need to buy into your vision and the only way they can do that is if they know what the vision is in the first place. Practice communicating changes quickly so that your people get a chance to adapt to the change.
Get Over You! You are a leader, that means you are there to influence others. Influence is getting people to do things because they want to and not because they have to, or because you’re the boss. Leading others is going to take patience, perseverance and time. There’s no quick fix to grow people. Leadership is messy because the people business is messy. So this means your ego and feelings may have to come down a few pegs. Apologise when you’re wrong and be humble when you’ve hurt and misrepresented others.
Lastly, I would say your followers, teams, groups or whatever you call them need to know that you care and that they can trust you. They need to know that you’re not going to leave them holding the bag when things go wrong. So learn to support them in their decisions. Allow them to make mistakes. This is how they grow.
Stay current, stay credible, stay aware and stay likeable.