You might think you’re a good people leader, but if you are like many managers out there, there is a good chance you are deluding yourself!
It’s not all your fault though. Weak people leadership is rampant. I see the same story time and again across all sorts of organizations. Those promoted into people leadership roles are technically strong, high performing, have incredible work ethic, are action oriented and strong problem solvers. Those are all great attributes, but they are insufficient for being a strong people leader. In fact, these attributes can actually get in the way of being a strong people leader by causing one to stay too closely involved, rather than seeking to accomplish through others. Organizations fail to consider whether the individuals they are promoting actually have the desire or ability to be strong people leaders.
What’s more, in a world where tangible, short-term results are most valued, people leadership often is not given the importance it deserves. Both organizations and people leaders need to take responsibility for this state of affairs. If you manage others you can start to do this by asking yourself the following five questions:
- What value would your employees say they get from reporting into you?
I can’t tell you how many people have told me they get little to no value out of the relationship they have with their managers. That’s not all, many report the relationship detracts from their engagement or effectiveness. Ironically, when I ask their managers, they often seem to feel they are adding a lot of value. Are you truly confident your employees feel they are better off from reporting into you, are you helping them be successful, removing roadblocks, advocating on their behalf, ensuring they have what they need to deliver against expectations?
- What do your employees wish they were getting from a manager?
While many of my clients think they know the answer to this already, when I ask them how they know it generally isn’t from having asked. They can just tell… Don’t assume, just about every great people leader I have had or worked with has had a discussion with their reports about what they need from them as a manager and how best to work with them. They also check in periodically to see how well they are doing in terms of meeting such expectations and whether their employees’ expectations have changed.
- How do your employees feel after an interaction with you?
Do you leave your employees feeling inspired or deflated? Do you help strengthen their engagement or cause them to feel disenchanted? Do you enhance their resolve or make them feel disillusioned? Too many people shudder at the thought of having to speak with their managers. Even when a difficult or unpopular message must be delivered, the best people leaders do so in a way that leaves a positive impact or their employees. What impact would you want to have?
- To what extent have you contributed to the development or your employees?
Strong people leaders regularly engage their employees in career conversations. They seek to understand their aspirations and do what they can to support their employees in the achievement of their goals. They are strong coaches that delegate, trust, and empower others. They don’t hoard talent or let their own needs or agenda supersede their employees’. Are you helping your employee grow and advance in their careers or are you getting in the way?
- Can your team count on you to do the right thing?
In order to effectively lead others you have to earn their trust and establish your credibility with them. One of the ways you can do that is by ensuring you lead with integrity and transparency. You may not always be able to make decisions that everyone is pleased about but people are more likely to support you anyways if they believe you are well intentioned, honest, open, and trustworthy.
These five questions were not meant to be an exhaustive list of what it takes to be a good people leader but they do tie back to elements I’ve consistently seen to be critical. What else would you add to this list?
About the Author
Trusted advisor and leadership development expert. Proven success in building lasting client relationships, managing key accounts, and business development. Extensive experience identifying clients’ human capital needs, designing impactful solutions, and leading large scale projects and teams.More Content by Mehrdad Derayeh