There are two elements of your leadership that really matter:
A) Who you say you are, and
B) Who you actually are
Like it or not, you have a leadership BRAND. Like any brand (think, Apple, McDonalds or Kia Motors), people have a certain expectation of you. They develop this expectation through the signals that you send - mainly the things you say. This shows people who you SAY you are.
Now, most leaders are pretty up-to-speed with what ‘good leadership’ looks like. So they say the right things: You can talk to me, your opinion is important, my door’s always open, I’m fair and honest.... things like that.
But the reality is that it doesn’t matter what you say .... what matters is what you do. And there aren’t many more things as frustrating to a team member as when what you say is completely at odds with what you do. This shows people who you actually are.
Just imagine you have ordered some iPhone cables from Shang Zen Wu* online (this may or may not have happened to me just last week...). You wait patiently for them to arrive, you really need some extra cables because you’ve broken so many.... and these ones are apparently break-proof!
Then, when they finally arrive, they look nothing like what you expected to get, and also they aren’t even compatible with your device!! It doesn’t matter that it only cost $8, you’re still pretty annoyed. You contact the seller, you want to send it back..... you invest far more than $8 of your time and energy. Why? Because your expectations weren’t met and this trips your emotional hardwiring and - if you’ve ever listened to my keynotes or been to one of my workshops, then you know that once this happens - we begin to choose irrational behaviours.
On the other hand, you may hate McDonalds as a food source, but you always know one thing for certain.... it’s going to be exactly what you think it’s going to be (not withstanding that the burger looks nothing like the picture of the burger.... but I think we’ve established that as part of the brand).
Now let’s apply this to your leadership brand. Who do you say you are? If you could write down your own leadership declaration, starting with this line:
“I am a leader who......”
Then what would the rest of that declaration look like?
And if you then take an honest assessment, then how much of that declaration are you truly upholding? Are you even trying to be McDonalds** or is Shang Zen Wu good enough?
* not the vendors real name
** obviously you can go ahead and substitute any other brand that you know of that lives up to your expectations time and time again.... I really only used McDonalds for the headline.
** Tony Wilson is a Workplace Performance Expert. His insights into performance science and it's application in the workplace will make you re-think the way that you approach leadership, culture change, high performance and productivity. Tony has an MBA and a BSc majoring in physiology and delivers workshops and keynote presentations around the globe.