The Entire Team Matters!

authentic leadership deliberate leadership developing leadership presence earning leadership employee engagement employee experience how to develop leadership presence inspiring and engaging leadership leadership leadership culture team leadership Jul 07, 2022
Developing Leadership Presence

Once we’ve accepted a leadership role, there’s never a shortage of things demanding our time and attention. That’s just part of what we signed up for! That said, one thing we just can’t lose sight of, especially if we want to build the kind of leadership presence we’ve been looking at up until now, is just how important it is that we stay connected to the team we’re responsible for leading. Yes, that requires our time, which is already limited. And yes that requires our energy, which is often in short supply. But our team, the real VIPs we looked at last time, deserve that from us if we truly expect to earn their buy-in as we develop leadership presence.

One thing we cannot do, or even give the perception that we’re doing, is put our team members last - even the ones we’re not necessarily best buddies with. To establish authentic leadership and genuine influence, we need to be incredibly intentional about showing that we value every individual on our teams. That’s no simple task! There will always be some team members who have more in common with us than others. And there will inevitably be some folks outside our organizations who we’ve developed great relationships with that want to get time with. But building leadership presence with our entire team will mean that we often need to go out of our way to be available - to whomever needs us.

Think of that scenario I referenced before where people paid big bucks for the meet & greet session to be herded through for a quick photo while the band stood on wooden boxes ten feet behind them… Since seeing posts about that, I’ve also seen a backstage photo of the drummer hugging John Travolta (whose head was shaved?). I won’t even touch the weirdness of that photo, but it removes any legitimacy of that ten foot boundary being related to Covid concerns; it tells me they just weren’t interested in being too close to the minions…

Let’s take that back to where we live and breathe. I remember how annoying it was to see a particular shop floor employee frequently camped out in a management team member’s office. They had some common interests outside of work so those seemed to carry over into the workplace on a routine basis. By itself, it wasn’t a huge deal… The challenge was that this shop floor employee had a longstanding reputation for being a loafer, and he was an arrogant ass on top of that. Before you say, “Gee, Wes, tell us how you really feel,” know that I just shared a VERY toned down version of how little I ever respected that particular fellow…

Now couple him being a less than ambitious (or productive) team member with the fact that this particular manager often didn’t make time for issues or concerns other employees (significantly harder working ones at that) tried bringing to his attention… I’ll let you guess how much leadership presence he built amongst his team!

Here’s the thing, that manager wasn’t necessarily a bad guy; he just wasn’t being an effective leader. All said, he was a fairly good manager - but that’s just not the same thing! To combine effective management with effective leadership, we need to be as good at working with our teams as we are with overseeing the technical processes they’re involved in. That’s no small order; it will require a lot of our time and attention, and we’ll rarely be able to make it all happen without being very intentional about letting all of our team members know we’re available when they need us - so that’s where we’ll pick up next time!