By Michael Holland – 

Great leaders stand out like an oak tree growing in the desert.  You see it, feel it, know it when you’re around a great leader.

There’s an authenticity about them that is so endearing.

They are great because they have the capability to be vulnerable and seek as much information as possible regarding how they can be more impactful.

Here are 3 ways you can become a more impactful leader.

Build Vulnerability-Based Trust Environment

Trust is one of those words that we seem to thrown around a lot, filing off the raw edges of its true definition.  Trust does come in different forms.

There’s predictive trust (which is knowing people will do what they say), and then there’s vulnerability-based trust (which means people are open and honest with each other).

As a leader, you probably see yourself as trustworthy (likely more trustworthy than those around you).  But do others on your primary team see you that way? Do they truly trust you, and you them?

Get naked – so to speak – by becoming comfortable with letting your team and colleagues see you for who you really are.  No pretension.  No positioning.  (See a quick video of Patrick Lecioni on Trust)

Go Through a New Leader Integration/Assimilation

Unfortunately, it often takes a long period of time for a team to learn about its new leader and to reach a common understanding about expectations and operating style.  This facilitated process accelerates the transition of a new leader by developing a snapshot of:

  1. what the employees believe they know about the leader
  2. what questions they have for the leader
  3. what concerns they have with the transition

The leader responds to these questions in front of their team to affirm/clarify the perceptions, to answer the questions and to address the concerns.  They set expectations and get issues on the table early on which creates an open climate to deal with potential mis-perceptions, issues and conflict.  (Learn more about this type of process here)

By the way, your HR business partner might be a good resource to facilitate the process for you and your team. 

Go Through a 360-Degree Feedback Survey

This tool is designed to provide leaders with the feedback they need to improve their leadership behavior and impact.

Feedback, ideally anonymous feedback, is drawn from direct reports, peers, the boss and other stakeholders regarding the leader’s current leadership impact and what leadership behaviors those raters would like to see more of in the future.  The contrast and comparison of the results of the survey by rater/stakeholder group provides fantastic insight.

What the leader does with the insight is what sets apart the average leader and the great leader. (Learn about the process for 360-degree feedback surveys)

It takes a lot of courage to push through the veil of vulnerability but when you do you’ll learn that leading well is much easier and tremendously more impactful.

Coaching Thoughts – For You and Your Peers

  • Do you want to lead in such a way that you’ll be an oak standing alone in the desert?  Why or why not?
  • Watch the Patrick Lencioni video on Trust.  Go to a peer manager and talk with them about what you learned from the video.
  • Which of your leadership behaviors do you believe are having the most impact? Least impact?