When someone attains a leadership position – whether in politics or business – we assume they’ve worked hard to achieve that role and are likely being compensated well. Should we expect them to like the job and us? I say yes.
In his new book An Effort to Understand David Murray’s essay “We deserve leaders who act like they like us” caught my attention. We’ve all had the experience of working with or for individuals who look like, sound like and feel like they’d rather be doing almost anything else than leading. It can show up in any number of ways:
- Grumpiness, gruffness and irritability are all excusable in a moment but if they end up being the persistent way in which a leader shows up, avoidance will follow.
- Leading with ‘Yabut’ (‘Yabut we’ve tried that before…Yabut that will never work’)
- Creating unnecessary tension by expecting alignment and agreement and not inviting employees to be themselves and articulate their unique perspective on a problem.
- Micromanaging your team member until their confidence erodes and creativity is thwarted.
What communicates “like?”
- Adopt an appreciative inquiry perspective that allows you to leverage an employee’s strengths, rather than weaknesses, and build a plan that utilizes their most positive capabilities to create the outcomes you desire.
- Lead with ‘Yes, and…’. ‘Yes, that’s an interesting idea and can you develop the idea so we can learn more?’
- Demonstrate appreciation by placing team members in positions of influence so you can witness how they lead and collaborate.
- Communicate with optimism even when things are bleak. Be honest, be realistic, and paint the picture of where the company or team will be on the other side of whatever the current challenges may be.
And the list would not be complete without adding and communicates ‘I can’t imagine a better way to spend my time in this moment then talking to you and hearing what’s on your mind.’