Thousands of books, conferences, webinars, videos, blogs, and training sessions have been developed specifically for developing and improving a leaders ability to lead people. The difference between a great leader and an average leader will make all the difference so I can see why there is so much material out there.
For this post, however, instead of highlighting more areas for leadership improvement I will be putting the spotlight on those they are leading.
Let me first preface by saying there are bad leaders who may be bad people and not willing to change or adapt. If you happen to be reporting to one and it bothers you, perhaps its time to find another gig and this post would not apply.
So with that out-of-the-way, do you think there is a possibility that part of the problems we have with leadership may lie with the perception we have of our leaders? And by having these perceptions are we actually restricting their growth? Are we limiting their ability to connect and learn from us?
There may be a perception leaders are unapproachable and would rather not receive input or feedback from anyone. There is often a perception leaders have their own agenda, are only in it for the money and the title, or looking to find the next rung on the ladder. There may also be a perception leaders have it all figured out and don’t need help.
Any of these perceptions may, in fact, be reality but by continuing to feed into these perceptions are we being the followers our leaders really need?
To enhance or improve the relationship with your leader, here are a couple of things to try:
Think best intentions until proven otherwise. Turn off your internal cynic and believe your leaders have best intention in mind. If you are not sure they are making the right decisions, respectfully have them provide rational and share your thoughts and ideas.
Talk to them. Share open and honest feedback with your leader. Don’t wait for the next formal 360 review or performance cycle. Believe me when I tell you, leaders will appreciate it more than you realize. Most leaders are not fully aware of the impact they are having on people because people are unwilling or afraid to speak up.
Allow them to serve. We often ask our leaders to take on the role of “servant leader” and to think of the needs of others before their own. For some of us, it’s not easy to be the recipient of a true servants attitude. When your leader asks if you need anything, tell them the truth and share your genuine needs.
Trust them. Similar to my approach with those who report to me, I will try and say “I trust you” to my leaders every so often. It’s a gentle reminder of the importance of their job. If I’m having trouble saying those words, it’s my internal signal to set up a conversation with my boss to discuss why trust may be faltering.
Thank them. When was the last time you said “thank you” to your leader? If you are truly thankful, tell them. Hands down, my best days as a leader are when I hear those words so perhaps there is a little selfishness here!
If you find yourself struggling with any of these, have a chat with your leader to discuss your concerns. Otherwise, today, pick any of these, try it out, and let me know how it goes.