October 28, 2016 Comments Off on TALENT TALK: Becoming a Leader Views: 270 Connect Classroom

TALENT TALK: Becoming a Leader

Talent Talk is a regular column on employment trends written by Glen Esnard, the executive vice president and principal of 20-20 Foresight Executive Search. 


We have all read books on leadership.

My bet is 90% of those who read books, articles or listen to speakers on leadership say “I do that.”

If that is accurate, why are true leaders so scarce?

It should be no surprise. There is often a broad disconnect between our beliefs and self-image and how we appear to others.

Example. A couple of years ago I was coaching a young emerging leader. “Concern for the well-being of the follower” is a cornerstone of sound leadership.  I asked him if he was concerned for the well-being of his team. “Of course” he responded. When asked how he demonstrated that concern, he responded,“I really don’t have time during the day. I am too busy pushing them. Maybe I should buy them a beer Friday afternoons.”

Ok, so you kick their ass all week and a beer on Friday is going to cause them to think you care about them?

The point. Our values and belief systems often don’t translate into our consistent actions.

Consider this.

I have written previously about Transformational Servant Leadership, a fusion of two unique styles of leadership that research has shown to be particularly effective in follower performance.

In 2004 Stone, Russell and Patterson did research that identified the core characteristics of both transformational and servant leadership styles. In no priority, listed below are the combined characteristics identified by Stone, Russell and Patterson.

  • Charismatic Influence
  • Vision
  • Inspirational Motivation
  • Honesty and Integrity
  • Service
  • Intellectual Stimulation
  • Individualized consideration
  • Appreciation of others
  • Empowerment

Consider yourself for a moment. Do you believe in all those attributes? I’ll bet you do.

But what are the behaviors and practices you display daily to your “followers” that demonstrate those characteristics? Beliefs or values not demonstrated don’t exist in the minds of followers.

If the above characteristics resonate with you, consider an exercise (by the way, not a pitch, but this is really tough to do without a coach). Look at each of those characteristics and ask what behaviors or practices you would expect from a leader that possessed a specific characteristic.

For example, a leader who “appreciated others” might regularly encourage individual followers, teach, mentor and actively listen to them.

With that list of practices in place for each of the characteristics (there will be some overlap), ask yourself which you do regularly, sometimes or not at all.

Better yet, conduct a blind survey of your team and peers (potential future followers). You will be left with a gap analysis, clearly demonstrating where you exhibit the practices of a leader and where you don’t. It’s up to you, then, to fill the gaps.

There is one caveat to this process however. The characteristics you want to define you as a leader must be authentic. If you don’t truly “appreciate others” you can’t fake it. Inauthentic leaders tend to lack followers.

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