As leaders, we often forget who our most effective instructors in business leadership were. Although we would hate to admit it, many first lessons we received on how to (or really, how not to) lead come from Hollywood. That’s right. Films are successful because they portray dramatic scandals, relationships, and situations. Consider all the popular movies displaying poor boss/employee relationships: The Devil Wears Prada, Office Space, Wall Street, and Scrooged just to name a few. These films display a successful, yet ruthless, boss who is willing to make others miserable, all in the name of power.
It is imperative that we remember that these fictional stories are exactly that: fiction. They do not represent how we should treat others, or expect to be treated. The leaders in these movies do not display vulnerability, honesty, or transparency and that’s exactly why their employees detest them. The most important asset an authentic leader can have is a trusting team who knows that they are in good hands. But to earn that trust, leaders must first display 3 key traits: transparency, credibility, and forward-thinking.
Your employees are not naive. In times of trouble or uncertainty, they will look to you for guidance on how to react and move forward, but they are not ignorant of the circumstances. As we are all too aware, COVID-19 hit the world, therefore businesses, hard. Most employees recognized that their career would change; either by shifting to a work-from-home situation, a possible furlough, or even a permanent layoff. While leaders could not control the situation, the best thing that they could do was show transparency and make sure that employees were informed of all updates to the company and industry. As a leader, it is not your job to have all the answers. But, an authentic leader respects their employees enough to share what they can, as soon as they can.
That being said, as a leader you are not expected to have all the answers, but you are expected to know how to guide the team towards finding a solution. As said by James Kouzes, author of Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It:
“If people don’t believe in the messenger, they won’t believe the message.”
Credibility is established through honesty and consistency; your credibility is vital to ensuring that the team understands that they are being led by a seasoned individual who is ready to fight alongside them. Stay reliable in your words and in your actions. Your team will thank you for it.
As a leader, it’s vital that you see the bigger picture. Crisis occurs, failures happen, and mistakes are made. But as an authentic leader, you must be able to look past what is and see what could be. In the words of author Willie Jolley:
“A setback is a set up for a comeback”
It is not what happens to you, but how you react to what happens that proves your leadership capabilities. Always be on the lookout for the next opportunity, even if it’s currently packaged as a problem. And often, where you see an issue, a colleague may see a solution.
Debi is a coach to high performers, leaders and business owners wanting to achieve more and grow beyond what they believe is possible. Known for her clarifying insight and a pragmatic approach, Debi brings her clients to the next step by asking the right questions during strategy development and supporting them during strategy implementation. With experience in management, recruitment and employee development for various industries, she has a wide scope of expertise and will confidently guide you towards a successful future in your career.
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