12 Most Unexamined Sources That Influence Your Leadership

12 Most Unexamined Sources That Influence Your Leadership

Leadership is intangible. You can’t physically touch it. You feel it when you experience good or bad leadership. You see actions stemming from a leader’s beliefs and activities.

Your leadership is shaped by the external world. However, THE source of leadership comes from within. The leaders who leave us touched, moved, and inspired constantly examine their internal sources of leadership.

Socrates once proclaimed, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” As a leader you must constantly weed out beliefs and activities that interfere with creating relationships and context that help people contribute their best.

The sources of your leaders must not go unexamined. These are 12 sources worth examining.

1. View of people

Do people need to be controlled? Will people do the right thing most of the time? The conclusions you’ve made about people will shape how you view them and their actions. It’s perhaps the trickiest driver in this list. Why? It’s hard to examine our beliefs. We accept the conclusions we make to be true. It’s how we make sense of the world. We make false conclusions all the time, though.

2. Your trust in people

Trust is central to leadership. Some of us give trust immediately. And only when it’s broken do we stop trusting the person. Some believe trust must be earned. Some never trust. How you trust people will either limit your leadership or help your leadership be limitless.

3. Ability to connect people

Can you connect people to do great work together? Do you see connections between people’s talents? This driver believes that we work best together. You can accelerate passions, success, results when you know people’s talents and what’s going on around you. This is what helps you to connect people.

4. How you unplug

Leadership is a selfless act characterized by giving. It’s crucial that you know how to unplug to recharge. You need to be driven to keep your internal state rested so you can be available to people.

5. You don’t look away

Are you driven to confront injustice? Do you deal with saboteurs of team performance? Do you confront yourself? Leaders who leave us touched, moved, and inspired don’t look away from problems that dismantle individual and team performance; they step up and take on such problems, bruises and all.

6. You can name and explain your personal values

In these hyper-connected times, we hear and read endless stories of leaders who made unethical and/or illegal choices. Identifying your values isn’t a nice exercise. It’s a requirement. Leaders driven by their personal values can lead in an unending range of grey areas. Naming and explaining your values gives you an anchor to lead in the grey.

7. Commitment

What’s your commitment to your role as a manager? To your role as a leader? To your employees? To your development? Is the commitment commiserate with passion or does it yield mediocrity?

8. Want your/their life to count for something

Is life something to get through? Or is life something you get to define? How you view your purpose in life carries over into your leadership of people. And your leadership can make work meaningful for others. You get to choose.

9. Integrated life

Work/life balance is bunk. The notion of balance sets us up to pursue something not possible in our 24-hour world. Instead I advocate an integrated life that weaves together the many roles you hold in life. These roles are nurtured when needed. They are not pulled apart as equal parts forcing us to find ways to balance them.

10. Ability to make amends

Be the leader who is willing to admit to mistakes or being wrong. We all make bad decisions or use poor judgment. When you can make amends for your mistakes you are more relateable. You become less a box on an organizational chart.

11. Adaptability agility

Adapting to quickly evolving realities helps you lead your team through changes. Examine how you respond to change and what you need to move from denial to acceptance. A leader who is stuck in the past weakens others, the team, and herself.

12. Where you place your “wants”

Is what’s necessary for the team a higher priority over your wants? Leading people to achieve what’s best for the team and ultimately the organization is sustainable. Pursuing personal “wants” that don’t align with needs causes breakdowns in relationships, effectiveness, creativity.

It’s no coincidence the first three items are about other people. Leadership, when it works for the good of the whole, is selfless. Such leadership is sourced from within each of us willing to examine and reexamine who we are and what we believe. Leadership is a serious calling we all get throughout life. It’s how we respond to the calling that matters.

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nmmacedo/5259488716/ via Creative Commons.

Shawn Murphy

http://switchandshift.com/

Shawn Murphy is founder and president of Achieved Strategies. He works with organizations helping leaders bring out the best in their people during times of change and through leadership development. His purpose is to help organizations restore optimism in the workplace and to work with leaders to lead in the 21st century. When not working, he blogs at Switch and Shift on topics to help leaders inspire optimism and New Era Leadership. He’s a coffee addict. Music fiend. Dry humorists. Movie junkie. Wannabe painter/artist. He’s working on his first book.

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20 comments
DeniseWBarreto
DeniseWBarreto

Shawn - I love this post - everything about it and as a person who advocates for healthy relationships - number 9 is on point. 100%. If we can figure out how to move through our various roles in life giving what is needed at the appropriate time - we will be successful. This is different for everyone but so key. I'm always a wife, mom, marketer and public servant. It just varies how much when.

fergusonsarah
fergusonsarah

Interesting post.. I have to say, 1, 2 , 3 and 7 is what really catches my interest.. I think those 4 would already be enough to influence leadership.

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solidgoldcreativity
solidgoldcreativity

Hi Shawn, Great post! I particularly relate to number 9 as being crucial. This is my first time here and I'm glad to find you. I'm excited by your stated purpose about helping organisations restore optimism in the workplace. A very great goal.

I_Consistency
I_Consistency

It's good to see that the first three areas of influence are concerned with other people. One leadership theory called Leader-Member Exchange examines the quality of relationship. The connection between leaders and followers will greatly affect the amount of influence a leader has. When followers are fully bought-in to the leader's vision, the idealized influence is stronger.

westfallonline
westfallonline

I believe that leadership exists not in the abstract, but in action. From my viewpoint, I believe that we are all leaders in some ways (no matter what our titles, roles or responsibilities). Leadership can exist at any level, so for me this list is about how we can all take stock of our influences. Influencing others? Well now: That's what I call leadership. Shawn, your post influences and encourages me to be a better person, and hopefully a better leader. Purpose, commitment, connection - these are universal qualities of a life well-lived (or should I say, "well-lead"?)

Thanks for this thought-provoking post, Shawn. Nice work!

dbvickery
dbvickery

Enjoyed this, Shawn. I always love a good Leadership post. I especially liked your perspective on the integrated life versus work/life balance. I was talking to @kfvickery about that just a couple days ago. I feel I've struck a work/life balance, but "integrated" is probably more accurate. I absolutely agree that you have to be able to name and explain personal values. Mine usually start with "family first" followed by a healthy dose of obligation and integrity.

ObairLeadership
ObairLeadership

Shawn, great post. I particularly like #1 for a leader's general view of people is such a key driver to how they influence and respond to people, particularly under stress. And, of course, #2 and #3 are partly determined by #1.

ThinDifference
ThinDifference

These are great sources that define who we are as leaders, as well as who we are as a person. Number 6 on values is critical... much more important than setting goals. Number 9 is very valid in today's world - life is not compartmentalized today; we need to live in an integrated way. Great thoughts (as usual)! Thanks, Shawn.

LauLau81
LauLau81

You are absolutely right! What I love most from these list is the trust... Building trust to your people id a great way to reach out for them. If you give them your trust, they will think many times before they will break it. But of course, balancing your authority will make you the perfect leader.

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shawmu
shawmu

@susansilver Hi Susan, it takes getting used to. I've had conversations with people in my personal and professional roles about why/how I slide their importance up or down.

shawmu
shawmu

@solidgoldcreativity Glad you've found us at 12 Most. Great group of writers here. I hope to "see" you more around these parts.

shawmu
shawmu

@I_Consistency Certainly no arguments from me on this one! Work will get done even in the worst relationships between managers and employees. The quality, pace, even innovation will be meager.

shawmu
shawmu

@westfallonline Chris, you make an important point: leadership exists at any level. I am grateful that this post has you reflecting. This is why we write. =) Be well my friend.

shawmu
shawmu

@ObairLeadership I learned this important point working with a former colleague who didn't trust people's intentions. It got in his way of truly connecting and establishing and deepening relationships with others. Vital viewpoint.

shawmu
shawmu

@LauLau81 Excellent point on authority. Despite these modern times, there are plenty of managers who believe authority over others is key to be an effective leader. It's important, but not for manipulation or coercion.

dbvickery
dbvickery

@shawmu@kfvickery I've always been one of those guys who is driven by obligation. Kris and I were talking about it recently. I'm the guy who comes out of shoulder surgery and then jumps on a concall. If I'm still breathing, I'm making my obligations. Of course, that means I then have an unrealistic expectation for other people to meet obligations even when they are presented with illness, injury or other unforeseen obstacles.

I'm a work in progress ;)

shawmu
shawmu

@dbvickery@kfvickery I like your definitions Brian. And I'm right there next to you as a continuous work in progress.

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