After managing people and eventually leading leaders for years, as well as working in cross cultural teams where you have to build relationships despite geographical distance.
I started wondering what makes people want to work with a leader.
It doesn’t have to be just your direct team but also people who don’t report to you. It can be people at work that support your success in different shapes and forms. Often it’s extended teams even amongst internal and external suppliers and support groups.
In my view the best way to be successful is to value and trust people who put in all the hard work to ensure you shine. This is easier to do with your own teams – everyone tries to keep their teams engaged and motivated. But the real leaders are the ones who can break boundaries and hierarchy, embrace diverse thinking and appreciate the value others add to their lives.
When you work in cross functional teams spread across the world, it is easy to function in silos and potentially alienate others who do not fit directly within the immediate team but in the long run, what differentiates great leaders from the average is inclusion, trust and respect. Equally, the ability to have an open and unbiased mind to accept a different view and believe in collective intelligence. Leaders never have all the answers themselves and when someone gives them the answers, a great leader recognises that and gives credit where it’s due.
When people feel valued they feel empowered and proud to be part of the journey to excel and in turn produce the best outcomes.
So if you are in the role of a leader, remember that you are as accountable as your teams and supporting colleagues for your behaviour, values and ways of working. As much as a team is assessed by the leader on performance values and behaviours, the reverse is also true. Most leaders are expected to know the job well – that’s why they are leading after all. But what makes a boss or manager a real leader is not ‘what’ but the ‘how’ they achieve the results and how open, honest, trusting they are of their extended workgroup. That’s what makes them trusted and respected.
So if you want to be a leader or are one, remember to be the trusted and respected one. Without that, it isn’t worth much after all.