Wednesday, December 12, 2012

How Are You Viewed As a Leader?

Regional Leadership Forum
Regional Leadership Forum (Wikipedia)
by Marcy Stahl

If you're a direct seller leading a team, or a solopreneur who's guiding your clients to successful transformation as well as working with a few virtual or in-person assistants /employees, you have probably asked yourself: "What are the qualities of an effective leader, and do I have them?"

These are great questions, and you'll find many, many resources to help you answer them. Paradoxically, you may turn out to be a BETTER leader if you flip that idea upside down and ask yourself "What do my team members most want from their leader?"

"The academic study of leadership has failed, and the reason is that it focuses on the leader, when the appropriate focus is on the followers," suggests research psychologist Robert Hogan, who profiles executives for Fortune 500 companies. When we flip the examination of leadership on its head and look at what followers will follow, we get a better idea of what quality we're talking about.

"What is it the followers are looking for?" he asks. "The focus should be on the work force or the team, and what they perceive. Because if they don't perceive the right thing in a leader, you're through."

According to Hogan's research, followers want four things: integrity, confidence, decision-making and clarity. But just as important is what followers don't want: irritability, moodiness, untrustworthiness, indecisiveness, needless micro-management and excessive authority.

They perceive these things as incompetent, and pretty soon the leveling mechanism kicks in and there is a subtle rebellion.

Sally Jenkins, Washington Post,, accessed 12/3/2012.

The leveling mechanism referred to above ranges from ignoring orders to kicking out the leader. Whenever you feel like your team is unresponsive to you, it's easy to think: "They're just not as committed/focused/goal-oriented as I am." Though tempting, this idea just helps you justify why it's OK for you to stay right where you are.

I invite you to consider that problems with your team are actually an opportunity to move your leadership to a whole new level! Here are some tips.

1. Looking at yourself analytically, are integrity, confidence, decision-making and clarity key qualities you have?

  • If NO, how can you support yourself to further develop them?
  • If YES, then look carefully at whether you are actually demonstrating them. Feedback from colleagues and team members whose truthfulness you trust can help you with this.

2. Consider the qualities that followers do NOT want. The qualities followers don't want: irritability, moodiness, untrustworthiness, indecisiveness, needless micro-management and excessive authority. Have you been showing any of these, either due to trying conditions in your life or perhaps your personality?

  • If YES, consider what goal you are MOST interested in: leading a high-functioning team which requires overcoming moodiness, irritability etc., OR giving full rein to your feelings?

3. If you feel confident about the personality traits you exhibit as a leader, then it's time to look at how you show up emotionally for your team. What role: trainer, problem-solver, mother, enabler, go-get-em, encourager- do you most often embody?

  • If you said YES to any of these roles, coaching your team is what will move you to a whole new level of leadership and them to a whole new level of performance. Once you've trained your team, what is left to get in their way is NOT lack of understanding about WHAT to do. What gets in their way is their mindset: what they feel is possible or impossible for them; what they feel they deserve; and what they feel is safe for them to experience.
  • Coaching (not encouraging, not sympathizing, and not training) is what helps them find their OWN motivation and figure out their best next step forward. You cannot want something for them more than they want it for themselves!

Call to Action

Start within by seriously considering the qualities you have as a leader and how you can further rely on them and bring them out for your team.

Looking to substantially upgrade your leadership ability?
Want to jumpstart your team's motivation and performance?
Will that be easier for you with coaching/mentoring/support to get this done?

If this is you, then I invite you to contact me for a private call, one-on-one, where you and I will discuss your goals and how my expert coaching and mentoring can help you get there. I invite you to email me at We'll easily find a convenient time to get this underway.

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  1. Great article Dr Robert

    I believe one of the essentials of being a good leader (or manager)is to first openly and honestly recognise and accept the leadership style you fit into and then decide how you can change and develop that leadership style into becoming a successful team leader and motivator, thereby getting the best out of your team.

    If you get an opportunity to read this excellent Harvard Business Review Book on 'Peter Drucker - The man who invented Management' you will be not be disappointed as Drucker highlights some of the questions you should be asking yourself.

    Link to

    1. Hi Marion,

      Thanks for your comments. Interesting comments about Peter Drucker. There is no doubt that Drucker's work is very important.

      I do like the greater focus of writers like Warren Bennis' "On Becoming a Leader" on developing a vision, creating teams, taking people with you, emotional engagement, and so on.

      This difference in focus is very subtle, but it's about the differentiation between the statesman-like visionary mindset of a Gough Whitlam versus the bureaucratic, logical management style of a Julia Gillard (both of whom I love).

      So, I take your point and Drucker is a great thinker, but the visionary who can get people to align with that vision is what leadership is primarily about.

      What's your view on this Marion? Do you see a difference?