“Mirror Mirror on the Wall. Who’s the Fairest of Them All?” And the Wicked Queen would wait for the magic mirror’s expected response: “My Queen, you are the fairest in the land.” And so it was, until one day the mirror shockingly revealed that times had changed: “My Queen, you are the fairest here so true. But Snow White beyond the mountains at the seven Dwarfs is a thousand times more beautiful than you.” Instead of facing the truth, the Wicked Queen vowed to poison Snow White, plotting revenge at every opportunity.
Fortunately, good pursued over evil. However, the now “not-so-fairest” in the land chose to look outward by finding fault in her successor, her subjects and her surroundings, rather than seizing the opportunity to become a better leader.
The wicked queen failed to ask this question: “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, could it be me that caused my fall?”
Today’s real-life leaders are much better off. They have the capacity to be more discerning, humble and make better choices. Unfortunately, some fail to realize that the business landscape has changed and are remiss when it comes to understanding their enormous potential to positively impact and influence others. If they paid closer attention to their reflection in the mirror, they would notice the following:
My team wants me to demonstrate trust
High trust and high productivity are inexorably linked. In an article just published by Entrepreneur, trust is identified as a key motivator. Individuals respond positively to a leader who encourages autonomy and creativity, allowing him or her the freedom to apply his or her own ideas to solve problems. When we feel trusted, we are more likely to contribute and remain committed. A good leader understands that playing the role of backseat driver undermines trust, builds resentment and heightens disengagement.
My team wants me to acknowledge their efforts
A leader who demonstrates genuine appreciation is practicing one of the most powerful motivators of all. Organizations can unquestionably experience bottom line advantages from a well executed employee recognition program. It behooves companies to ensure that such programs are in place. However, showing appreciation in a contrived or calculating manner is likely to be perceived as such. Employees are savvy and can sense the difference between leaders who respect and value their contributions and those who are taking a purely transactional approach.
My team wants me to keep them in the loop
When it comes to internal communication, nothing is more frustrating to employees than being kept in the dark. Leaders who mistakenly believe in the adage “no news is good news” alienate themselves further by not keeping people informed. Fearing a negative response, some leaders often opt for silence rather than communicating openly through uncertain times. Adopting a bold, unambiguous approach can foster better internal and external business relationships. Consider the experience of Dick Costolo, the former CEO of Twitter, who demonstrated great insight by publically declaring that he could have done a better job of communicating more openly, describing greater transparency in the workplace as the “key to success.”
My team wants to speak well of me to others
A leader whose eyes are wide open recognizes that his or her employees talk. They talk about their workplace with their friends who work elsewhere. They talk to their parents about their employer, their career and their immediate supervisor. They place posts on social media about almost every topic imaginable, including where they work and for whom. Many employees who recently entered the workforce are keen to be mentored and aspire to mentor others when they become leaders.
There has never been a better time than the present for some leaders to realize the difference they can make by setting an example for future generations who are watching, waiting and wanting to emulate all the positive characteristics they admire in a leader. Can you be the leader who delivers?
Photo by Bethany Legg