Showing Others You Are An Engaged Leader

With so many business priorities circling around and demanding your time and focus as a global executive, it would be easy to overlook how others are looking at you. But as with so many things in the modern workplace, perceptions indeed frame the reality. Even the smallest, most insignificant of events or disconnects can lead to the kind of departmental problems that reduce performance, hurt morale or cause resentment among employees.

Take the case of the disengaged manager.

She doesn’t realise the resentment building within her department because one of her employees regularly calls in sick, and within hours later is posting Snap Chats and Tweets of his ongoing shopping spree, much to the dismay of some colleagues in the office. Add to this the boiling resentment of another employee in the same department who has learned that several recent hires are making far more in earnings than she is. Toss in the perception – across the department – that this particular manager isn’t actually supervising the team, and you can quickly see how things have started to spiral out of control. Gossip takes hold, and the problem for this particular manager is that much of it is absolutely grounded in truth.

This all too realistic parable reminds of us just a few stark realities that we would be wise to recognise, lest they spark contempt and miscommunication with our teams.

Our employees are not only watching us and forming opinions of our leadership styles, but they are also watching others, particularly for signs of the behaviors and language that is tolerated, and that which is not. Especially injurious to a stable work environment is that level of frustration that moves some to start openly discussing their salaries or their lack of promotion, thereby creating a new level of resentment and jealousy and a real pickle for today’s leaders. Yet we come back to the notion that we are under the microscope as leaders. Busy and somewhat distracted as we are, it’s easy to understand how something as forgivable as forgetting to wish someone ‘Good morning’ – especially when we’re rushing to a meeting or have too much on our minds at the moment – can lead someone else to question whether we see them at all.

Before we start apologising in all directions, however, let’s take stock of a very important lesson. One’s executive position gives us authority, but it is our behavior – our everyday interaction with others – that determines the level of credibility we have and whether we have any organisational social capital to spend in pursuit of big business objectives. The truly engaged leader is rich in credibility, even if he or she may be lacking on structural authority. That is vitally important to realise now, as we continue to learn and grow as global executives, because there will come a time when our next career moves pivot on our ability to influence others – whether we have the formal power to do so, or not.

Copyright © TRANSEARCH International 2016


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