In my last LeaderChat blog post, I talked about the importance of having a clear, teachable leadership point of view. In this post I thought it might be helpful for me to share my personal leadership point of view, so you can get a sense of how to create your own.
Developing your leadership point of view can be broken down into three basic steps:
- Identify key people and events that have shaped and influenced your leadership point of view.
- Describe your leadership values.
- Share your expectations of yourself and others.
Identify Key People and Events
Who mentored you, taught you, inspired you? What did you learn from these people that shaped your leadership behavior? For me, it’s my mom and dad.
My mom was the ultimate positive thinker. She told everyone that I laughed before I cried, I smiled before I frowned, and I danced before I walked. With those kinds of messages, how could I have ended up anything but a positive thinker? Mom also helped me keep things in perspective. She said, “Ken, don’t act like you’re better than anybody else. But don’t let anyone act like they’re better than you either. Remember, there’s a pearl of goodness in everyone.”
My dad was a career naval officer who retired as an admiral. I learned from him that leadership was a ‘both/and’ relationship—both people and results were important to him. He taught me that position power and “my way or the highway” are not the way to lead.
As far as key events go, I’ll never forget the moment my dad taught me a lesson that has stayed with me all my life.
I was elected president of the seventh grade and came home all excited. Dad said, “It’s great, Ken, that you are president of your class. But now that you have a position, don’t use it. Great leaders are followed not because they have position power, but because they’re respected and trusted as individuals.” That lesson has stayed with me all my life.
Describe Your Values
Values—things like integrity, excellence, success, humor, freedom, power—are the core beliefs that you feel strongly about. What qualities and principles do you value? Jot them down on a piece of paper.
You may come up with a long list. Narrow the list by holding each value against the others until you have just three to five of your most important values. You might want to look back at your stories about key people and key events in your life and think about the values reflected in those stories.
I had trouble narrowing down my top values, so I combined two words to create “spiritual peace” as my number-one value, followed by “integrity,” “love,” and “success.”
The next step in clarifying your values is to define them. To be able to live consistently with a value, you must be able to explain what that value means to you. For example, I define “love” by how it makes me feel and behave:
“I value love. I know I am living by this value anytime I feel loving toward myself and others, anytime I express compassion, anytime I show love to others, and anytime I receive the love of others.”
Your Expectations of Yourself and Others
Clarifying your expectations for yourself and others is the last step in crafting your leadership point of view. These expectations should flow naturally from the key people and events that have influenced you and your values. Your expectations really are the essence of your leadership point of view.
Here’s how I describe my expectations of myself:
“I believe my role as your manager is to help you win—to help accomplish your goals. I want you to get an A. If I am behaving according to my expectations of myself, I will be cheering you on. If progress is not being made, I will be redirecting your efforts and helping get you back on course by either providing direction or support or both. In other words, you should know when you are getting ‘wrong answers’ so that we can discuss what would make a ‘good answer.’ If I am living up to my expectations of myself as a leader, everything I do with you will be geared toward helping you produce good results and, in the process, feel good about yourself.”
Letting people know what they can expect from you underscores the idea that good leadership is a partnership. It gives people a picture of how things will look as you work together.
Here’s what I expect from the people who work with me:
“I expect you to partner with me as we work together to achieve goals. I expect you to be open and honest, so that we’re both clear and enthusiastic about the goals we set. If you are unclear about a goal, my expectation is that you will communicate with me so that I can provide the direction and support you need to succeed. Finally, I expect us to have fun together. Life is a very special occasion, and we don’t want to miss it!
When you let people know what you expect from them, it’s a gift, because it tells them how they can be successful under your leadership.
Okay, I’ve shared mine—now it’s your turn. What’s your leadership point of view?
If you need some help, check out Blanchard’s free webinar on Creating and Sharing Your Leadership Point of View.