Something You Just Can’t Buy

authentic leadership authority buy-in earning leadership ethical influence impact influence leadership culture positional leadership positive leadership positive leadership qualities the lasting impact of positive leadership trust Aug 03, 2022
Positive Leadership Qualities

In addition to showing humility to every individual on the teams we lead in a way that exemplifies just how much we truly value them as individuals, we need to do everything in our power to earn something from them that can never be bought…

For more than twenty years now, I’ve heard John Maxwell emphasize that “Leadership is influence. Nothing more, nothing less.” While there are plenty of organizations out there that serve as examples for getting results through sheer force, cracking the whip or simply flexing the muscles of positional authority, that’s always going to require direct oversight. You’ve heard the phrase, when the cat’s away…? Well, if we’re going to treat our team members like mice, we should probably expect them to play when we’re away!

But if we’re serious about developing the positive leadership qualities that have a lasting impact on the individuals we lead, we’re not gonna get it done by looming over them with some sort of threat if they’re not heeding our every command. That’s actually an incredibly effective way to enhance the recruiting process - for our competitors! If we want to earn the kind of authentic influence that folks with buy into and support whether we’re watching their every move or not (and I’ve never seen a leader who’s had time for that kind of surveillance), there’s a positive leadership quality that can’t be overlooked…Our teams have to be able to trust us unequivocally!

I’m guessing you’re familiar with the idea that we do business with people we know, like, and trust… As I’ve dug into the science that backs the DISC Model of Human Behavior, I’ve come to understand that idea varies slightly depending on whether our primary focus is the task at hand or the people involved in that particular task. As someone who’s a bit more task focused, I need to trust someone before I can really like them. Folks who are more people focused will usually need to like someone before they’re willing to trust them. In either case, very little influence is ever gained without trust being in place!

In the second lesson of our Emerging Leader Development course, we challenge participants to think about the leaders they’ve had to that point in their own careers who they knew cared for them, they knew could help them, and they could trust implicitly. We often ask for examples, and end up hearing some amazing stories! As we consider the importance of trust as a positive leadership quality, I’ll ask you to consider whether there’s ever been a leader in your life who’s had a lasting impact that you weren’t able to trust… I’d be stunned if there was!

Now, just like we do in that session, let’s flip things around… How would your team members answer those questions about you? Most importantly right now, do they know they can trust you? Are they 100% certain that you’re focused on what’s best for the entire team (leadership inspiration) over what helps you the most (authoritative manipulation)? This is something we just can’t buy, but when our motives are pure, this shouldn’t be all that hard to earn. It always requires work and we’ll look at the positive leadership quality we can apply to make that work even more effective next time…