Authentically Leading and Following (Part X)

By Paula Brown Stafford and Lisa T. Grimes “Managers help people see themselves as they are; leaders help people to see themselves better than they are.” – Jim Rohn What do you look for when seeking a good company to work for?  Maybe you would consider the company’s benefits or salary.  Maybe a specific position really matches your passion, or the company itself operates in an industry you are really interested in.  Recently, Glassdoor posted their Employee’s Choice 2018 Best Places to Work, and the top five companies had 10,000+ employees.  Although the reviews showed that employees did enjoy the company benefits, the biggest factor in their review was the community and leadership over them.  Here are just a few of the reviews: Boston Consulting Group: “Extraordinary colleagues, high impact work…great training and development.” Bain and Company: “Bain has a great community. Genuinely enjoy working with co-workers and the approach to partnering with clients.” Google: “Amazing, fun culture who helps each other learn and succeed.” Even though these top-ranked  businesses had thousands of employees all over the world, they were still praised for their ability to create a tight and inclusive community.  If we want our own workplaces to have this same culture, then we must be part of it by setting an example. Over the past few months, we have discussed a lot about what it takes to be authentic leaders and followers and how to best promote an environment that allows people to be successful and fulfilled.  Today, we want to add three more  characteristics that we can implement to promote the best work environments.

Connect with Our Followers

We cannot just be leaders who only see our employees when we call them into the office or during meetings.  We need to build connections.  This starts with being approachable and getting to know our employees as individuals, not just numbers.  Maybe this means we should get involved outside of the regular 9 to 5 hours.  If your company plans a volunteer event or fundraiser, then go and encourage your team to participate with you. Help your followers feel they are a part of a bigger picture, not just another employee who is easily replicable. Also, when someone on the team succeeds, then delight in their success.  Show them that they are valued and noticed when they do good work. this could be a special lunch or as simple as a hand-written note.

Model What We Want

As leaders, we are to be stewards of our followers; it is our job to pull out the best in them.  If we want those around us to reach higher levels, be creative, and achieve new heights, then we need to show them how.  People follow by example; therefore, we as leaders need to communicate transparently and share our vision.  Be clear about what we expect from our employees and teammates. Then, get out of the way. When we give others more freedom than we are comfortable with and build them up, they will generally deliver.  Show them, give them room – but be available, and they will often succeed.

Believe in Ourselves – and Our Followers

If we want to be more than just managers, then we need to believe in ourselves and in our team.  We become what we believe, and it’s when we live out our beliefs and stay true to ourselves that we inspire others.  Our confidence in ourselves becomes evident to all, and it is contagious – in a good way!  It is also hard to believe in others when we don’t even believe in ourselves.  When we believe in ourselves, we can start to show our followers that we believe in them, which helps them believe in who they are and in their work.  It’s a chain reaction that provides positive results and brings out the best in others. We’ve talked about many traits that embody authentic leaders and followers, and we encourage you to practice these characteristics in your workplace. In the end, though, remember that it is all about people, and when you go above and beyond for others, then they will go above and beyond for you.