Recently my husband and I had a conversation about “natural born” leaders. In my line of work, I certainly believe that leadership can be taught, nurtured, developed, and encouraged in just about anyone. However, we talked about memorable people who have crossed our paths, at work and outside of work, who possessed certain traits and ways of being that made them leaders in their roles – no matter their title, position, or pedigree. All of these people – from the Sales manager who came up through the ranks without a college degree to the wise elder at our neighborhood diner – are everyday leaders who make a difference. Here’s how to spot them in your organization:
- They are self-aware – Everyday leaders know themselves. They understand their strengths, admit to their weaknesses, and are able to adapt and flex to situations based on that understanding. They are able to step back and reflect on their actions, and they are willing to ask for support, seek feedback, and hear others’ opinions about how they can bring their best self to work.
- They connect the dots – Everyday leaders may not have the seat at the table that titled leaders have, and they therefore may not be privy to as much information. Instead they pull from a variety of sources to gather information they need, draw connections, and synthesize ideas for those around them.
- They ask questions – Everyday leaders know that real communication, trust, and interpersonal effectiveness comes not from taking up all of the air space, but by asking questions of others and then shutting up to really listen to what others have to say.
- They are both interesting and interested – Everyday leaders have unique stories to tell about their life experiences and passions. People find them interesting, well-rounded, and able to be at ease in any environment. And they show a genuine interest in learning about others as well.
- They possess competence and character – Everyday leaders have the all-important formula for trust – they are competent in their roles and they have strong character. They demonstrate a command of their work responsibilities and have knowledge and experience that they share with others. They also are people whose behaviors let you know that they are honest, open, fair, and have integrity.
- They are listened to – Everyday leaders have “EF Hutton moments” because of the level of credibility and goodwill they have built. When they talk, people listen.
- They garner loyalty – People gravitate toward everyday leaders because of their natural ways of being and interacting with others. Because everyday leaders build trust and treat others fairly, colleagues, clients, and friends are extremely loyal to them.
One of the most common leadership issues we hear from clients is the leader who was promoted because of his or her strengths as an individual contributor and who is now struggling due to a lack of interpersonal leadership skills. Instead of focusing solely on the technical and functional competencies of potential management candidates, make it a practice of seeking out the everyday leaders in your organization. Your employees and the organization will be better for it.
Who are the everyday leaders in your midst? What other traits do they possess? Please leave a comment.
If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.
For support in identifying the everyday leaders in your organization and in developing the skills of everyday leadership in your employees, contact Robyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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