I have to laugh at my own silly sense of humor in “touching on” intangible traits, but I’m also making a point. You can quantifiably measure things like delegation, achievement, and motivation from a leader to a team. What you can’t measure are the three more intangible traits of patience, trust and confidence, but without these you’ll also be measuring the number of people leaving, citing poor leadership as the primary reason. As important as these three traits are, they are also those with which leaders can struggle the most. Let’s touch on these and see if we can improve how you use…even the traits you really can’t “touch”.
Last week, as I was waiting on something, this phrase popped into my head: “Patience is only a virtue for those who are waiting for something they don’t really want”. Now I’m not sure that’s categorically true, but I can just see some ancient medicine man sitting on a rock espousing patience is a virtue from the perspective of someone who is 110 and perhaps isn’t feeling ambitious or driven to reach for much. Those who aspire to positions of leadership typically want results. They want action…now… and they enjoy and crave accomplishment. None of those things endear themselves to patience, however, without patience, your behavior becomes pushy, so a balance is necessary. Being pushy doesn’t result in people getting more done, it makes them feel pushed. Talk yourself into being patient, even if that means you double or triple the time YOU think is appropriate to wait before your next iteration of “are you done yet”. Things do work out in a right timing it seems and what may need to be adjusted is your expectation of that “right” time.
One of the webinars I created recently helps new leaders work on their ability to earn respect from those they lead. Part of what we know to be true in the earning respect process is that it can also be followed to help build trust or earn the trust of others. Some of these steps include being true to yourself, keeping your word, and doing your best, but if it’s trust you’re not sure they have, there’s a few more steps to add. In order for people to trust you, they have to be capable of trust. This concept is a two way street. In addition, building trust takes time. See the above paragraph on patience. And the number one way to build trust is to be someone people can trust. If you say something is confidential, mean it and show that. If you say something is “just between us” keep it that way, even if it means you’re not seen as the central source of all information.
On the issue of confidence, I often joke that this is primarily about managing the voices in your head. It’s true actually and yet many are not sure how to do that exactly. To build your confidence, turn the volume down a bit on the internal critic. Give yourself permission to be “human” if that’s a struggle and know that this very effort will make you even more approachable. Recognize that as a leader, being confident is not the same as arrogance. The feeling of real confidence, in your own gifts, skills, and talents, your own convictions, and your own clarity of direction (which means you may want to get clear on what you really want and where you want to go before you can guide the team there), will keep you from taking others’ action personally or making tough leadership decisions based on popular opinion or mass agreement with your direction.
The effect of having and using or earning all three traits will set you apart from those leaders who rely on their power or authority to entice or force others to follow. The true mark of an effective leader is how many others follow them, regardless of their title, willingly and with loyalty. These traits, demonstrated with sincerity and authenticity will remarkably increase that number.
Today, actively pursue and practice the use of these three traits. They’re contagious you know. 🙂