Ahhhh 1990, the age of perms, pleats, shoulder pads and pantyhose. It was also the year I attended my first supervision training while working for one of the nation’s largest banks. The training lasted two half-days and covered performance review writing, hiring and firing, a sprinkle of communication here and there and the proper dress code for managers. That’s it! No mention of personal development or leadership skills. On the job training consisted of me running back and forth between my small team and my manager for guidance. I figured out the rules as I went along, I had no clue how to lead those people and it showed!
It wasn’t entirely my fault though, those were pre-Internet days and most training courses and personal development books focused only on basic manager skills. John Maxwell’s, Developing the Leader Within You would not be written for another three years, and the organization I worked for had not yet shifted its focus from management to leadership.
My early leadership style was insecure. I had no long range vision, little trust from my team and I thought the people needed me more than I needed them. I had been trained to lead from the typical top down with the strategy of barking orders and issuing commands to get things done, until that is, I learned a more effective way.
John Maxwell says, “Leadership moves at the speed of trust.” Trust has to be earned, it is not automatically given just because the leader holds a certain title; most people know this already. But what is not widely understood is that you, the leader, must shift from directing to connecting in order to gain that trust from your followers. Connecting with people is essential not only for establishing trust, but also in order to achieve organizational goals.
Review the columns below and see where you find yourself and if needed, make the necessary shift today. Being directional isn’t necessarily a bad thing, sometimes the position of leadership calls for this communication style, but if you want your people to win, you will need to stretch yourself and become a connector because good leaders always want their people to win!
|Mainly listens||Does all the talking|
|Side by side||Top down|
|Asks questions||Gives answers|
|“Your” agenda||“My” agenda|
|“Your” ground||“My” ground|
|All about you||All about me|
|I sit with you||I stand, you sit|