It’s nearly the end of the year, and always a good time to reflect both backwards and forwards. When you look at your performance over the year, can you see where you really progressed as a leader? And can you see where you would like to develop?
Looking at your own performance isn’t always easy – after all, how you perform as a leader depends pretty much on how other people respond to you, so what you are really trying assess is how others see you and the impact you have on them.
I’ve been working with leaders and senior managers for more than 25 years now, and the keys I see to people being able to lift themselves as leaders is insight in both knowing themselves, and understanding the effect they have on other people.
Effective leaders make the effort to really discover how they impact others. They learn to see themselves through the eyes of others, and doing so, develop a greater understanding and appreciation of the needs of those around them. They see, and accept how they themselves are perceived. These leaders are authentic. They create real connections with individuals whether one-to-one or in groups. This means they go beyond feedback, and really really discover how they impact others.
The main thing I see in effective leaders is they create two-way connections; mutual relationships.
What are the indicators of mutual relationships?
- People feel included by you
- People feel free to approach you
- People confide in you
- People feel OK in pushing back with you, letting you know what they think
- Peers, bosses and staff come and ask you for your view on things
- People like working with you
- When you are in groups, you have a good sense of what people are thinking and feeling and what you am ARE thinking and feeling
- People around you get things done
- You respond to challenging questions simply
- You know how to connect with people.
Effective leaders move beyond offering expertise and advice in their specialist area. Peers, staff and bosses seek them out for opinions, and their sound judgment on the big issues around the organisation.
People like this have a high level of what I call “executive presence”. You know when you are with someone with executive presence. You want to hear from them, and you want to find out more from them. These are the people that others look to for guidance and direction. In being with them, people are inspired to action.
This is unlike leaders who may be technically brilliant but tend not bring their “selves” to the role either in their connections with others, or in their responses to developments and decisions in the workplace. One consequence is that they themselves can feel invisible, unheard or unappreciated.
So can you build executive presence? Or is it something leaders are born with?
I work with people both individually and in groups on developing executive presence and have seen some great results.
Some of the key results people I work with on executive presence want to see are:
- I am sought after to lead cross government projects
- Peers, bosses and stakeholders seek me out for my views
- I make positive first impressions without needing content
- I take risks when the stakes are high reputationally
- When a peer or senior leader pushes back on my view, I stay engaged
- I am approachable, influential and easy to work with.
If you think any of these are things you would like to work on next year, get in touch with Diana to see if any of her programmes might suit.
© Diana Jones