Why should Anyone be Led by You?

In my span of leadership, I have noticed employees willingly consent to be managed by a genuine human being who is honest and lives by one’s values. A fancy job title bestows upon you the organizational power to lead, but this does not mean your employees have consented to be led by you.

The award-winning HBR article ‘Why should anyone be led by you’ explains the traits that exceptional leaders possess. The authors after an in-depth research learnt that great leaders share interesting qualities which can be honed by those willing to discover their true selves. They emphasize on the authenticity of leadership to attune to their followers with four inspiring qualities.

Reveal Your Weaknesses

  • Exceptional leaders selectively reveal their weaknesses. Such frank admissions work as they evoke respect, establish an atmosphere of trust and make you approachable.
  • On the contrary if executives fake perfection, this wrongly signals arrogance. This notion of being flawless will fail to harness your follower’s support.
  • Disclosing your true self needs you to be highly aware of your core competencies and the areas in which you lack.
  • Being vocal about your mistakes makes followers believe you more and gathers their support.
  • It is in human nature if you do not admit your shortcomings, then observers may invent one. Celebrities deliberately reveal their struggle stories knowing that if they don’t, the tabloids invent something even worse.

Be a Situational Sensor

  • Great leaders rely heavily on intuition to assess the situation and decide an appropriate course of action. They pick on their instincts and use their sensory perceptions to interpret soft data. They sniff what’s happening by picking environmental clues without things being outwardly spoken.
  • This involves projection whereby you attribute your perception on other people and things. This may not necessarily be the truth. For this reason, it’s sane to validate your perceptions with a trusted adviser or team member.
  • Newly appointed leaders that enter organizations are advised to do some situational sensing and delay imposing standards right away in order to lead more steadily.

Practice Tough Empathy

  • Real leaders empathize fiercely with the people they lead, giving people what they need not what they want.
  • They care genuinely about the work their employees do and are straightforward in their interactions with them. The act of caring reveals their human side.
  • Bringing your authentic self to work attracts commitment from employees beyond the obligations of their job. The reciprocity is people who readily own up their work — and live up to it.

Dare to Be Different

  • The important quality of leaders is that they capitalize on their uniqueness to create their elite positioning.
  • Communicating you are different is important to fetch visibility and command respect.
  • Often leaders display their peculiarity not just by having a distinct dress style but through qualities like technical know-how, creativity, expertise or oration.

The authors urge leaders to be increasingly aware and frame a leadership style that best works for them. There is no one –fit formula and how you ingrain these qualities depends on your persona.

The article is filled with several thought-provoking illustrations on how leaders succeeded and is a must-read for those venturing on a leadership role within family, community or organization.