Flex Your Leadership Muscles
“I don’t really want to change who I am,” said one of my clients after I shared input from several people who worked with him. He was a nice guy, an intelligent person who juggled multiple critical priorities and was driven to succeed in any challenge he encountered. This was his brand.
Yet there was something needed in his leadership style to be more effective. There were times when he micro-directed his team on actions; when he curtly answered calls from his peers because he was running late; when he used “I” more than “we” in reporting progress to the CEO.
I assured him the feedback did not require a full “reboot” of who he was as a person; rather, that it was an opportunity to expand his range in how he showed up as a leader. Because as a leader of leaders, how he leads is more important than what he leads. (It’s more important because people remember how they feel and how they are treated more than they remember what a person knows or does.)
Being purposefully flexible is a key component in the “how” of leading. Once you are aware of your audience, of the situation, and of the impact that you want … you can adapt accordingly. Flexibility doesn’t imply that you become a shape shifter, bending in the wind or to the whim of whomever you are with. As Colin Powell said: “Leaders honor their core values, but they are flexible in how they execute them.”
This was true in the case of my client. As we delved into the various areas of feedback, it became clear to him that he didn’t have to change his convictions or core beliefs as a leader. He realized that he only had to make a few minor changes in order to enhance relationships with others and create even stronger alignment. By flexing his style, he could also improve the tactical outcomes. He didn’t change who he was at his core; but he did evolve his style. And, in the end, this actually enhanced his brand.
This Week: Think about the people with whom you routinely spend time. Reflect on recent situations and assess whether you had the impact you wanted. In what ways do you always show up in the same way? When does that serve you and the others? When does it not? How might you expand your range in responding to, or approaching, others? Try new things: If you’re often the first to speak, don’t be. If you have certain phrases you use, use different ones. Commit to being purposeful – and flexible – in your leadership style.
In Next Week’s Post: Building alignment.
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