In order to lead others you must first be able to lead yourself. Have you ever looked in the mirror and asked, “Am I a person who inspires and encourages others?” If the answer to that question is no then you may not have the power to lead.
You see there is a difference between power and authority. If you are a manager or you own your own business you have the authority by virtue of your role. However, your power is granted by those on your team or those you supervise. You may have noticed in your workplace that people without titles have been sought out by others for advice and approval. They have been granted power by others by virtue of their leadership skills not their job title.
When working with leadership teams here in Westchester County NY I ask the question, "How much power do you have?" If you are not sure why not ask the people around you to give you some guidance. And if you have employees make sure you ask them. Ask them what they feel is your biggest leadership challenge and what you can do to improve it. Asking others for their opinions conveys respect, shows that you value their feedback and increases your credibility as a leader. Don’t be surprised if they are reluctant to answer. It might mean you have some work to do to get them to feel comfortable giving you the total “honest” truth.
Acting on their suggestions may not be easy. While you can change and improve your traits, it will take real commitment, discipline and desire to change your old habits. If you expect to get performance from your team, however, you are going to have to succeed in making changes yourself. You will need to change your behavior and habits if you expect others to do so.
Our habits are a function of our attitudes which are patterns of thought developed from our conditioning. Unfortunately, most of our conditioning occurred to protect us when we were very young. Statements such as “Children should be seen and not heard, don’t talk to strangers, don’t go where you’re not invited” were designed to help us when we were very young but they are actually hindering us now. The salesperson who has call reluctance, for example, is exhibiting the adult behavior of “don’t talk to strangers.”
In order to change those habits you will need to change your attitudes. Here are 3 steps:
1. Recognize that your attitudes are Habits of Thought. And the attitudes that you currently hold give you some level of satisfaction.
2. Determine the satisfaction you derive from that attitude or habit.
3. Replace your old attitude with a new one.
You need to understand that you are getting some satisfaction from your old habit; maybe it is just complacency and comfort. Substitute the new satisfaction you will get from the new habit; such as more income; a new car, respect and prestige or anything that you define as success. Think of the pleasure of getting those things. In reality, you must have a new satisfaction which will take you out of your old comfort zone to a new zone of satisfaction.
Understanding motivation and having empathy for others in helping them is just one component for getting performance from teams of employees, associates, or volunteers. Master this and you can work on the others.