You’ve read all the latest leadership articles. You’ve attended a few classes and training programs. You’ve even set goals around your leadership, based on all you’ve heard. But no one seems to truly view you as a leader, or even listen to you. And you don’t know why.
The good news is that the “why” could be simple and also reversible, if you’re willing to put in a bit more effort and attention. Here are a few reasons why your leadership may be lacking, and what you can do about it.
- You’re not credible – While you may be saying all the “right” things, and even doing some of the “right” things, if others sense a hidden agenda, they’re likely to dismiss everything you say and do. In other words, if you are leading in a particular way because you read it in a book or think it’s what a “real” leader does, others may see through that and you won’t be believable. You need to lead authentically in order to be credible. To perhaps say and do what is “right,” but to say and do it because you mean it, not because you learned it in your last leadership class. As William Shakespeare aptly said, “This above all: to thine own self be true.”
- You’re not trustworthy – If you’re saying one thing and doing another, chances are your team members will look to another leader – someone they can trust. “Everyone needs more balance” you tell your employees, and then you email them at 11 p.m. or 3 a.m. “It’s alright to take risks” you profess, and then you lambast someone for trying something new that failed. Your direct reports and colleagues will notice what you do more than what you say, and when they’re inconsistent, your ability to lead is shot. You need to match your words and your deeds, to say what you mean and support it with what you do.
- You’re not consistent – If you’re strong on Monday and weak on Tuesday. If you make a decision on Wednesday and then flip-flop on Thursday. If you welcome new ideas at times, but shut them down at other times. All of these actions will convince those around you that you can’t be trusted and they won’t want to be led by you. Instead, show up consistently for those around you, so they know where you’re coming from and what to expect from you.
- You’re not self-aware – You make a mistake and don’t apologize. You aim to look like you always have the answers. If the people you hope are following you don’t believe you’re real, they won’t follow you. They want to hear you say “I’m sorry” when you’ve had an oversight or misunderstanding. They want to know that you’re don’t expect yourself – or them – to be perfect. They want to know you’re real.
There may be blatant – and easily remedied – reasons why no one wants to be led by you. Make sure you’re credible, trustworthy, consistent, and real, and you’ll be more of the leader you want to be.
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