Being kind comes naturally. It’s in our human nature to want good things for others, to want others to be happy, to succeed and prosper.
As a leader right now in this global pandemic and unrest, it’s a necessity to let that natural kindness come to the forefront of how we show up as leaders. We are not always aware of what others are feeling good about or what they are struggling with.
Here are 5 powerful leadership acts of kindness to practice every day – with employees, peers, people more senior than you and all other stakeholders:
Be 100% present. When you’re with someone – in real life or remotely – show them that they have your full attention and that you value them enough to not let yourself be distracted by buzzing phones or pinging emails.
Listen without prejudice. Don’t assume that you know what someone is thinking or what they will say. Be curious about their opinion. Listen first, then respond. Ask the right questions.
Be supportive. Are you seeing someone struggling? Emotionally or work related. Reach out, support, offer your help, your guidance or simply your ear. Be prepared for any response and allow that to be ok.
Notice when someone does something good. Praise them, thank them, recognise them publicly if relevant. Cheer someone on for their effort, dedication, creativity and results. We have the power to increase the number of positive messages around us and that creates a ripple affect. We need it in these challenging times.
Be honest. Kind honesty is sharing your observations on what someone is doing very well (so they can do more of it) and also what they could do more effectively (where they’re not having the impact they want or need). Feedforward is caring enough to be honest – always in a supportive way that makes the person feel you always have their best interest in mind.
“Do things for people not because of who they are or what they do in return, but because of who you are.”
A version of this article was first published in the Indian Management magazine.
Stephen walked through the turnstiles for the first time since being appointed the new Chief Operating Officer.
He was filled with energy and pride, having finally secured the senior position he had so coveted. This had been a long process, as all senior appointments are. He had waited for this day for 6 months. He had no history in the organization and had been given a blank canvas for his role.
Sophia met him and showed him to his desk. Desk?! Stephen swivelled around, eyes darting to try to locate his office. There wasn’t one, he realized. Before he could say anything, he was quickly whisked off to a meeting with the rest of the Executive team, in an opaque glass fronted conference room. His new career chapter started and before he knew it, it was time for lunch and his first moment to reflect on his new reality.
Why don’t I have an office? How will this work? How will people know I’m senior? I need to show my authority and get myself an office!
Stephen didn’t get an office. The CEO had a firm policy that none of the executives would have an office, as Stephen realised when talking to a few of his peers. Stephen was surprised and initially perplexed, and ultimately it forced him to think differently about his impact as COO. His impact would depend on his executive presence rather than the visual statement of power that comes with an office.
In this example we can observe that the impact you have as leaders is not through position alone but even more about how you behave. You don’t have to have an office to have an impact.
Given that impact is so important, you need to challenge yourself to become aware of the impact you have or maybe lack. Day by day, minute by minute, action by action, your behaviours create the culture you and your team(s) operate within. What culture are you creating today? It starts with you and the ripple effect that you have. Your behaviour as a leader is magnified into the organization. It’s like a big magnifying glass so if you don’t like something that is happening in your organization then hold up the mirror to yourself – and reflect on how you have been a part in creating that. And if you do like something that is happening then chances are you are creating that too, so be proud.
You may have a lot of strategies, for the business, for change initiatives and more, but you also need to have a strategy for your impact and therefore what that will do for the business. You can’t depend on symbols of power, such as a corner office, to make you impactful. You need to take control of your personal impact.
What all leaders have in common is that they always operate through others, they need to enable employees to do a great job. This is why your impact becomes your most important strategy in order to deliver the desired and expected results.
Your impact is and should be bigger than you. And as a senior leader in particular, it’s not about raising your own profile, your focus on impact is for the good of the business, the greater good. Consistent and/or powerful impact creates your legacy, what the history books would say about you. What you become known for. Your legacy is also your personal brand. What do you want to be known for? What legacy do you choose? When you move on to the next role, what do you want to be remembered for?
Leadership impact has always been important but often more of a subconscious occurrence than a focused effort. The awareness of its importance has grown over time, hence also the need to, at a minimum, manage or ideally even create the impact you WANT to have rather than just accepting the impact you naturally have.
Be more intentional about the impact you are having!
If you are a senior leader, your impact is also greater. You set the pace for your organisation. You need to be intentional about your impact – you need to lead and role model the kind of impact behaviours the organisation, its people, its customers and all other stakeholders need.
Many people find the whole idea of creating impact challenging as it somehow seems false or conceited to them to create impact, they may therefore be reluctant to do something with this. This is particularly true for leaders in the early stages of their career. If you’re a more senior leader, this concept should and needs to be at the forefront of your mind and something you should be comfortable with. Recognise that creating impact is a positive, powerful and respectful commitment to excellence – and that you always need to do this in an authentic way, a way that suits you.
Reputation and Brand matters in all leadership positions and it’s important for leaders to understand and work with that. Whatever leadership role you’re in, it’s your duty to ensure you have a strategy for your impact, that you can be in control of. You are never guaranteed the office, the car or any other visual proof of positional power, but the impact you choose through how you act and behave is entirely yours to choose and control.
Things move fast, we’re all surrounded by constant change. Leaders need to create impact in the moment, to not lose the power of that moment. No one is perfect and no one will get it right all the time, but they need to at least seize their most important moments and create the impact that will help them connect with others in a respectful way, to create trust, get others to listen to them, to influence effectively and to drive results.
Focus on both the “what” and the “how”
Our ability to have a good or even great impact is becoming more and more important. We all need to think about the effect we have on others and what effect we want to have. ”How” we operate rather than simply ”what” we do is becoming more and more critical to success. It’s all about how we impact people, the business and the world around us. In fact, it is fast becoming the differentiating factor for successful executives, leaders and organisations overall, something that we observe every day in our work. We all need to pay attention to how we want “to be” as well as what we want “to do”. The more senior you become the more thinking about how you want “to be” rises to the top.
We all need to manage our personal impact, and the effect our impact has on all our stakeholders, both in the short- and the long-term.
Having impact when the clock is ticking
Leaders are often brought in to an organization or are reassigned to a specific division or region to make a difference within a given timeframe. Some common examples of that are:
A CEO is appointed to turn around a failing business
A CEO is appointed to lead the organization through an aggressive growth strategy through mergers & acquisitions
A leader is asked to implement a specific change to how the organisation is working
An interim leader is asked to keep the organization afloat while a new permanent leader is identified and hired
Whatever the reasons are for the finite timeframe, any specific deadline brings about an extra need for putting an impact plan in place, where the leader ask her/himself: How can I maximise my impact to deliver as expected within the timeframe (even if I don’t have a corner office!)?
Chief Enabling Officer
A leader has a responsibility to the people they lead; to add value to them, to be of service to them. In fact, the title CEO may well stand for Chief Enabling Officer in addition to the more commonly used Chief Executive Officer. And If we extend that to all leaders, they are also in the business of enabling their employees and teams. And what better way to enable people than role modelling the behaviours that shape an organizational culture that can flourish into the future?
Here are some examples of Impactful behaviours to consider for your Impact Strategy:
Listening without prejudice
Communicating with passion
Taking a genuine interest in other people
Seeing the bigger picture and being able to share it in an clear way
Generously sharing knowledge and insights
Showing trust in others
Communicating openly, honestly and respectfully
Yes, your behaviours are critical to your success, so think about what behaviours you want to be demonstrating and role modelling to others. Your personal impact can be much more powerful than any corner office could ever be.
Things move fast. Leaders need to create impact in each moment, to not lose that moment.
Creating impact is a positive, powerful and authentic way to demonstrate you’re taking charge, get more from your team and drive business results. But to succeed, you need to create the impact you WANT and need rather than relying on what you HAVE.
The Leader’s Guide to Impact will show leaders how to create the impact that will help them connect with others in a respectful way, to create trust, get others to listen to them, influence effectively, drive results and much more. And most importantly, the book will also show leaders how to do it in an authentic way that supports your reputation and brand effectively.
Managing and creating impact is not a “nice to have”, it’s a business necessity.
Most of us work in or manage teams, but are we really getting the most out of the numerous benefits of effective teamwork? All too often there are roadblocks – ranging from a lack of engagement to clashing personalities – that are holding us back from achieving the results we need.
Leading Teams shows team leaders how to overcome the most common obstacles to team performance and drive outstanding results from their people.
The Team Formula: A Leadership Tale of a Team who found their Way
Written in the format of a novel, it tells the story of an international team and its struggling leader following a merger. The recognition factor is high for readers from all industries!
This is a quick, must-read for leaders and team members in any organisation. The book offers a fun, engaging and informative experience, providing opportunities for reflection as well as valuable ideas that can be implemented immediately. The story tempts the reader, to look at him/herself and ask the questions: What choices am I making? How does this apply to me and my team? What am I doing to make this team work?
Going into the future, our ability to have great impact is becoming more and more important. We all need to think about our effect on others and what effect we want to have.
How we operate rather than simply what we do is becoming more and more critical to success. It’s all about how we impact people, the business and the world around us. In fact, it is fast becoming the differentiating factor for successful executives, leaders and organisations overall, something that we observe every day in our work.
And considering that leaders are increasingly connected 24/7 through social media, you are always on stage so the need to manage your impact is crucial.
By actively CREATING THE IMPACT they want, leaders are demonstrating they are more in charge of and can better predict the outcomes they get. We all need to manage our personal impact, and the effect our impact has on all our stakeholders, both in the short- and the long-term.
Are you ready to create your Impact Strategy? Great, then use our 5-Step Impact Strategy Creator™ to get you started!
Step 1: Decide on the impact you want to have
REFLECT: What impact do you want to have and on who?
ACT: List situations, initiatives, projects, places, teams, people etc
Step 2: Clarify what it will lead to
REFLECT: Why do you want to have that impact (what difference will it make)?
ACT: Map out the links between your impact and team/divisional goals and organisational vision and mission etc
Step3: Set target date
REFLECT: When do you want to achieve that impact?
ACT: Decide on milestones and deadlines
Step 4: Create an action/behaviour plan
REFLECT: How will you achieve that impact?
ACT: List ideas for actions to take and behaviours to adopt. Consider the support you may need from others
Step 5: Decide on success measures
REFLECT: How will you measure/assess your impact going forward?
ACT: List possible measurements, such as surveys, feedback, productivity etc
Want to know more about maximising your capability through leadership and personal impact? Then check out “The Leader’s Guide to Impact” our latest, award-winning book on leadership.
Do you have a job interview coming up? Whether online or face to face.
Or maybe you want to make sure you are ready for your next important interview? And want to make a really good impression, have great impact?
Then check out these 7 impact hacks to help you do just that:
Hack 1. Be prepared
Think through specific examples of when you’ve done great things in previous jobs or in research, analysis or collaboration at school or university. What did you do and what results did that lead to?
Hack 2. Do your research
Read up on the organisation; what is important to them, what’s their purpose, what is the culture like? Make sure it’s a place you would enjoy working.
Hack 3.Prepare questions
What do you want to ask that shows you understand them and can bring value to them? Interviews are 2-way, that means you get to ask, and should ask questions too.
Hack 4.Think about your WHOLE message
Consider your non-verbal communication. What is your body language like? Facial expression? Tone/speed of voice? Breathe. Smile. Mirror and match the interviewer, connect with them. It is not always about what you say but how you say it. Facial reactions and body language can make all the difference for that first impression.
Hack 5.Rehearse and Practise
Think about what questions you will be asked, rehearse your answers. Do that with a trusted friend or in front of the mirror, but make sure you are ready.
Hack 6.Believe in yourself
Relax. Remind yourself about your strengths; your skills as well as your personality. Be confident without being cocky.
Hack 7. Dress right
Appearance matters. Choose an outfit that matches what the organisation is all about. And wear that smile ?
She had noticed that her team members often seemed dismissive about the importance of her work. Why are they not interested in my work? Does what I do not matter?
Sarah felt angry, defensive and helpless, which made things even worse. Subsequently she didn’t want to work with them and started to avoid them, which impacted communication and team spirit even further. The disconnect between her and most of her colleagues grew.
In reality, the perceived disinterest was a result of the team members not really knowing each other, hence not connecting, rather than them being intentionally dismissive. People were busy doing their own thing rather than ignoring her. But Sarah didn’t see that connection.
Ultimately the whole situation affected one of their clients, who didn’t get a promised report on time, as communication had broken down between the colleagues. The client complained about the breech of contract this entailed and a penalty clause kicked in which meant the client didn’t have to pay. This didn’t improve the team spirit, but instead triggered an unproductive, finger-pointing blame game.
There was a clear impact on the bottom line from the lack of trust.
What this short story highlights is that team spirit and trust are often eroded, or never created in the first place, unless team members know each other, connect and value each other, and can clearly see that they have a shared purpose to fulfil.
And in this case, there’s also a link between the lack of trust and the bottom line (the penalty clause). And the lack of cooperation means it takes longer to get the work done which affects productivity which in turn affects costs. AND let’s not forget that when trust is low, loyalty is low too, leading to higher employee turnover, which leads to more costs.
Building a great team starts by spending time together, investing the time it takes to get to know and trust each other – and then explore how to achieve the shared purpose – together.
“Remember, teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability.”