How people SEE you, what leadership TOOLS you have, and how your BRAIN thinks about leadership are 3 critical ingredients of leader success. If you are growing leaders in your organization, or growing yourself as a leader, read on. People are always sizing each other up for various reasons. One thing they look for are leadership qualities.
So the appearance of leadership is important. I knew one woman named Karen who is a manager for a $300M company. She wanted to be promoted but couldn’t understand why she wasn’t being perceived as a leader. Well, everyone could see it and as her coach it was my job to tell her. People saw her poor appearance and made judgments about her leadership qualities.
Much of this is subconscious. They often can’t give reasons for why they see another person as a leader. Height, physical build, complexion, grooming, gender, clothing, posture, actions, words, message, voice quality, etc. all make a difference in leadership perception. Now obviously some of these you cannot change but many you can.
Part of being a leader is playing the part. Not being a phony but actually acting and looking like a leader. I know a leader named Mark who isn’t very tall but he acts, talks, and behaves like a leader. His people would run throw brick walls for him and he pays careful attention to his image as a leader. Very few leaders dress poorly. They hold themselves very confidently and look at others with kindness and confidence. They almost affirm people with their gaze. They display courage. You can’t change your height but you can study and mimic how leaders look. Makes a goal to look like someone others would want to follow.
Another thing leaders have are tools for leadership. They have skill with people and with tasks. They are usually experts in their field. I want my doctor and pilot to be experts in their field before I follow them into surgery or to 36,000 feet. Good leaders navigate challenges successfully because they have a mental toolbox full of ways to meet those challenges. Sometimes this comes from experience and sometimes it comes by their personal learning. Most leaders are enthusiastic students. They read, take classes, get coaching, to gain more skills and more tools quickly. I know another leader named Randy. He is constantly reading and taking coaching to improve his leadership competence. Leaders like him are always working on becoming better and smarter and this gives them wisdom to solve problems. People follow leaders like that. To increase your leadership, get all the knowledge and skills possible within your field; especially people skills.
To become a leader you must think like a leader. And here is the #1 thing leaders think about: achieving the goal. If it’s a business, the leader thinks about how to best create profits by serving the customer. Church, government, sports, education, family; in every category, the leader understands what the goal is and how to achieve it. The leader thinks about how to manage resources, motivate people, and deploy assets to win. Employees and their happiness is not the goal. Those are important but not the central goal. Leaders knows that even they are another asset to be used in pursuit of the goal. All other assets must be made subject to that. I know another leader named Tom. He thinks like a leader and also cares greatly for people. He helps them understand the importance of the organization’s goals and how his people can be significant by helping achieve that goal. People everywhere are looking for leaders like Tom to show them how to win in life by achieving team goals. Leadership is a big subject and these 3 ingredients are big when it comes to winning followers. Make sure you have them and work on increasing them. Then watch your leadership grow. Bob R