Are genuine people more effective leaders?
As a recruiter, clients often ask about the secret to finding good leaders. The foundation of leadership is built upon trust in genuine people. Without trust, even the most talented and accomplished person can struggle to motivate their team. People have often pointed to emotional intelligence as a core competency of a leader. While necessary, that is only one contributor to success.
Professional people want to be genuinely respected by their coworkers, leaders, and peers. They know when someone’s intentions are good and when someone is trying to use them for personal or professional gain. This is not new, but it bears repeating because disingenuous behavior still exists in many companies. It is one reason why good people leave good organizations. And those companies subsequently suffer due to brain drain, decreased productivity, or a drop in profits. Although coworkers may not speak up openly in formal company channels for fear of retribution, they often find a way to make their voice heard. A quick skim of popular company review sites reveals discontent from people who have lost faith in someone else’s leadership.
So how can you be more genuine? Lessen your ego.
Realize that good leadership is synonymous with ethical and consistent behavior, an open mind, and the ability to be humble. It can be easy to be tempted into a popularity contest and reward teammates for thinking the same way that you do or vocally reinforcing you regardless of their own perspective. Cliques in business can form from the same catalysts as they did in high school. An echo chamber of similar minds that reinforces your opinion can be comforting. However, successfully running a department is markedly different from becoming popular with peers. Meaningful discussion comes from listening to differing viewpoints, and sometimes admitting that your assumption about a project was wrong. Leadership involves making difficult decisions, and sometimes those decisions are unpopular. Yet, if you stand by your convictions, and you make the appropriate decision, you can earn something far greater than popularity: respect.
Gratitude is another trait of genuine people that is often overlooked by those vying for leadership positions. Truly genuine people are thankful for collaboration with teammates because they know it takes more than one person to complete a task or accomplish a milestone. It can be challenging to change your attitude and be thankful, so here is an experiment you can try: for two consecutive weeks, start each day by writing down three unique instances in which someone helped you, collaborated with you, or lightened your workload by being efficient. Practicing this before your workday will remind you that teamwork depends on other people. How you treat those people ultimately determines your success as a leader.