What makes a great leader? Someone who can inspire, captivate and transform moments, all around them?
I like to think of great leaders as great people. They are totally authentic both inside and out of work, and lead in the absence of hierarchy and status. A great leader can be anyone, you don’t need a title or managerial responsibilities to step up and inspire others, you just need to be connected to what’s going on around you and ignite people to want to follow you.
If you’re aspiring to be a great leader then try out these questions, they’ll take your connections and conversations to a whole new level – and what might you learn about yourself?
“What’s important to you at work?”
We’ve all heard the textbook – where do you want to be in 5-10 years time, but how often do we sit and listen to what is truly important to someone, now and in the future? Perhaps it’s recognition, perhaps it’s autonomy, maybe it’s about developing meaningful relationships or feeling supported. If the things that are important to you in work are unfulfilled or left unnoticed it can be hard to contemplate where you’ll be in 18 months, let alone the next 5 years. Take the time to ask this simple question and listen generously to the answers you’re given.
“How can I help you with that?”
Once you know what’s important to your team members, peers and colleagues, you can then ask “How can I help you with that?” It’s a common flaw that we assume people have the same needs, wants and desires as us. Take recognition for instance. There are 2 types of recognition, recognition for ‘doing’ (Well done that was a great report) and recognition for being (This team just wouldn’t be the same without you). We all have a preference and we tend to dish out what we like to receive. There’s also different ways to receive recognition, for example, publicly or privately. Take the time to understand HOW you can help, don’t just assume you know.
“How do you need to be supported?”
Have you ever been asked this question before? Do you even know the answer? Many of us are so busy getting things done that we fail to recognize our own needs. People often perceive asking for help as a weakness, or a sign that they’re not coping. However, we all need to be supported and that support can range from knowing a person is always there to needing a more hands on approach. What this question does is it gives permission to the person to need support and enables a conversation to take place that assures leaders can meet these needs.
“What do you like and admire about yourself?”
We all need cheerleaders and the strongest cheerleaders are our internal ones. It’s great to know that your line manager has your back and your team recognize your efforts, it’s another thing to be able to stand loud and proud and recognise your own gifts and talents. As a leader, you have a silent role in building the esteem and confidence of the people you come into contact with. Why? Because helping someone to recognize their strengths, assets and qualities is a far more productive use of time than pointing out inefficiencies, weaknesses or perceived flaws. A great leader will enable a person to use their strengths to overcome obstacles that get in their way. Focusing on weakness can easily put out the fire and drive that burns within someone.
Try them out. How did you get on? What other questions do you have that makes a great leader? I’d love to hear about them so comment or share below.....
Zoe Hawkins, Leadership Coach and Trainer.