Updated: Jan 21
After arriving at the office at 8:30 am, I was dragged into a 1-2-1 meeting with a very distressed colleague who wanted to speak to me immediately at 8:35. She was the Test Manager, and this was a new role for her, but having been the Test Manager myself previously, I was sure that whatever the issue, we would be able to deal with it.
As we sat down in the room, the Test Manager looked at me and said “I have a lump in my breast, I think it’s cancer and I don’t know what to do” and then burst into tears. After freezing for a couple of seconds, I tried my best to comfort her and indicating everything will be all right.
After reading this story from Gordon Tredgold article 7 Things, I Wish I Knew Before I Became a Leader; it touched my inner core because I have heard on many occasion so-called leaders telling their people “work is work”, I don’t care about your personal issues. “work is work”! amazing!
When someone can share such sensitive and personal information with someone, it shows that the leader has created an environment of trust and people can be themselves at work. This is what leaders do; leadership is not for the faint at heart. Everyone has the mental capacity to lead, they have the potential to lead, but they don’t have the desire because it’s easy to be a manager as opposed to becoming a leader.
Leaders encourage employees to be open and honest about their professional goals as well as their personal issues. “The best thing any leader can do to earn trust is facilitating transparency” according to Jeff Yurcisin, president of Zulily. Encouraging an open and candid conversation about employees career paths as well as listening to their personal issues is a critical factor for building trust.
Contrary to what managers usually do, leaders develop each employee individually, with full credibility. They understand their employees’ needs, and they genuinely care about them. They give to their team the importance that they deserve by soliciting feedback and engaging their people in topics of a personal nature as well.
They inspire confidence in their team.
Leaders clearly and concisely communicate their message to inspire those around them to greater heights of achievement. Richard Branson identifies the ability to inspire as the single most critical leadership skill. The ability to infuse energy, passion, commitment, and connection to an organization’s mission and direction is essential in any growing company. When people are filled with inspiration, they often don’t need external motivation to move forward. The feeling of purpose and meaning is enough to propel them to greatness.
Leading by Example
As a leader, part of your job is to inspire the people around you. To develop yourself into a great leader, you must set the tone and lead by example. When leaders don’t “practice what they preach,” it can be almost impossible for a team to work together successfully. How can anyone trust a leader who talks about one thing, but does another? Leading by example is the most potent form of leadership. Effective leaders model the way for others to follow.
To continually inspire your people to perform at their optimum best you must understand the perspectives of your people, and you must give them the respect they deserve which is reflected in the service provided to their customers; empathy allows you to achieve this and as a result, the most critical skill leaders needs today is empathy and the best leaders are empathetic leaders according to Lolly Daskal.
Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily even if you had no title or position. To become one of the greats of leadership, it takes the strength of character and a firm commitment to do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason. Fortunately, according to Tredgold it was just a lump and nothing too serious, but it's always refreshing to know that leaders are creating work environment in which their people can be themselves and be at their best.
Are you ready to lead?
About Gifford Thomas
I am the founder of Leadership First and the author of The Inspirational Leader, Inspire Your Team To Believe In The Impossible. At Leadership First, we are committed to publishing the very best inspirational leadership quotes and articles to inspire our 270,000+ community of leaders to believe in the impossible, while creating an environment free from toxic, fearful and intimidating leadership. We believe everyone can and should enjoy their work, but it must start with the leadership leading by example. Follow our community of leaders HERE, and let's change the leadership status quo to help inspire and motivate our leaders to make a difference and create an organization their people will love.
You can pick up your copy of my book The Inspirational Leader, Inspire Your Team To Believe In The Impossible by clicking the link below