When and where does leadership start? It begins in childhood and develops throughout a lifetime. One’s values and belief systems form the behaviors they bring to leadership. Their self-esteem and self-image play a huge role in the confidence they project. Business acumen, critical thinking and experience contribute to their competence. The addition of a credible presence, plus their ability to establish rapport and trust, allows them to influence others. “Influence is either positive or negative — never neutral,” Henrietta Mears once said.
Fortunately, I meet and work with great leaders, as well as some who think they are great leaders. The first type of leaders are truly effective and have exemplary personal values and ethics. They respect themselves, their families, their customers and definitely those they lead. The second type believes their personal choices and social misbehavior shouldn’t matter. However, those actions are detrimental and affect employees, reputation and business growth. They often are narcissistic and above reproach. Their decisions and demeanor are self-serving. Their unprofessional behavior has long-lasting adverse effects on productivity, sales, morale, business development and retention. They blame their workforce for the decline in business, employee productivity and relationships. They have no credibility, rapport or trust. Here are a few scenarios I’ve come across in my work with less than great leaders:
A leader’s tardiness of one to four hours causes staff to reschedule appointments or lie repeatedly on their behalf. Customers eventually refuse to take meetings with the sales team if the chronically late principal plans to attend. This leader blames the sales team rather than their own disregard for one’s time. Their unapologetic, self-important attitude puts stress on the sales team and diminishes its ability to meet forecasts.
It’s None of Their Business!
The philandering leader forces staff to deceive a spouse while creating a facade of family devotion. Assistants must lie about the leader’s schedule and whereabouts. Employees become resentful of the preferential treatment, trips and bonuses the helpful assistants receive from the leader. Staff is expected to support the leader’s behavior.
Why Aren’t They Productive?
A condescending business owner has 34 executive assistants in 10 years. He is demeaning and openly uses profanity and a derogatory tone with staff. Narcissistic, he is demanding, impatient and offensive. He built his corporate culture on fear and intimidation.
What these leaders fail to understand is that they are compromising their employees’ values every day. Behavior trumps words. There is no greater influence than the example you set for others through your behavior.
Influential leaders have the following values and qualities:
● They have a presence that commands the room before they speak.
● They surround themselves with advisors who have strengths they personally do not possess.
● They are compassionate and generous.
● They elevate corporate culture through their values.
● They make others feel significant by investing time to get to know them.
● They respect, recognize and reward employees who contribute to the success of the organization.
● They give public praise and private admonition.
● They allow subordinates to lead in their respective capacities.
● They are compelling communicators.
● They are open to suggestions for more cost-effective and efficient systems from all employees.
● They mentor and encourage emerging leaders to act like leaders, not followers.
● They welcome innovation and creativity.
● They are trusted and trust others to do the right and honorable thing.
● They have a moral compass and spiritual strength.
● They know their character and integrity influence everyone and everything they do.
These qualities are critical for influential leadership. When leaders possess these values, companies flourish because leadership, management and administrative teams create an environment where morale increases and employee productivity and loyalty are paramount.
About the author: Danielle Turcola has been turning leaders and emerging leaders into powerhouses for 28 years. She is president of the consulting firm Professionalism International Inc. as well as founder and CEO of What to Wear to Work Inc. As an expert in executive presence and influence, Turcola is a trusted advisor to corporations, executives and private clients who want to increase their professional influence. Her transformed clients command the room with a presence that is credible, memorable and influential. For global business interactions, she gives executives an immeasurable edge by introducing them to the cultural nuances of their international business partners. For more information on Turcola, call 216-926-3699 or visit askdanielle.com.
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