I’ve asked this question to hundreds of people across the years. A response I’ve gotten numerous times is a blank stare. The question should cause us to think. How do I come across to others? Do people know my true intent by the way I live out my life? Do people know that I care and want to see them become successful? Do they see me as a complainer? Do they believe I stand up for them and have their best interests at heart? Am I seen as ego-driven and power hungry? Do I always have to be the one in control, who makes all the decisions? What reputation do I have?
Let me ask another question. What do you want to be known for? After reflection, if you want to change the way you are perceived by others, you can take steps to change it. The key is to know what type of leader you want to be. I love this quote by Vince Lombardi:
“Leaders aren’t born; they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work.”
A leader is always being observed. People watch you – your employees, your peers, and other leaders. They notice how you respond to challenges, to changes, and to them. It all matters! So, if you want to get different results, you have to change people’s experiences with you. And the experience can’t be just a one time thing. You must be intentional about making the effort on a consistent basis.
The number one reason most people voluntarily leave a job is because of a poor relationship with their supervisor. It’s very difficult to work for someone whom you do not trust, or you believe has ulterior motives, or hidden agendas. It makes people dread going to work and interacting with you.
So, what can you do? First, answer the question, ‘What do I want to be known for?” If you’re not where you want to be, then set some specific goals and work on it. It’s not easy, but it’s necessary.
Second, Find a mentor, someone you trust and has the leadership qualities you admire. Ask for feedback on how you’re doing. Do something every day to reach your goals. You hold the key to your success. Be mindful and intentional. Pay attention to how people respond to you and make adjustments as needed.
Third, After you have worked on your goals (and behaviors) for a while, I recommend doing a short, simple survey with your employees and peers. People will be honest in giving you feedback for improvement if they believe that you really want to know the truth, and that you won’t retaliate in any way. And, don’t forget to thank the people who take the risk to be honest with you. It may be hard to hear some of the feedback, but isn’t it better to know what you still need to work on, and to hear what you’ve already improved in? I believe feedback is a gift! All we have to say when we receive a gift is, ‘Thank you’!
Finally, Keep on keeping on! Being a good leader is a journey, not a destination. So, what are you known for?
All the best,