Leadership Behavior

Houston Texas – 5/2/2017

“Make a list of what is really important to you. Embody it.”

-John Kabat-Zin

Often when I’m standing in front of a group of leaders, I lead them through an exercise called “I Like Leaders Who”. They divide a sheet of paper into two columns, and make two lists- one of attributes they like in leaders they’ve had, and one of attributes they dislike. Invariably, they walk away recognizing they actually do at least one of the behaviors they say they dislike. This exercise is a great way to jump-start the conversation about how personal leadership experiences mold and shape our own leadership style.

I had an executive I worked for once that, in hindsight, was very oppressive. Managed by fear and by title, a volatile personality, the work was never good enough and the hours were never long enough. I walked away from that experience beaten and anything but confident. I vowed I would never be a leader like that! A few years later I was meeting a client for the first time. A team of their leaders met with us- humble, respectful and diligently focused on our collaborative project. It was only when one of the leaders ran to catch me at the elevator to give me her business card that I realized- she was the CEO! I loved the way she carried herself, confident and smart, yet caring and unassuming. That was the kind of female executive I wanted to be! And those two women formed and shaped my personal style more than they will ever know.

Culture Building Tip

As a leader, be very mindful of your employees’ experience with you.  Behave in a way the leader you admire behaves.  Recognize that your actions- both the good behaviors and the bad- are being watched carefully by your employees, as you are helping them form their own leadership styles.  Which behaviors will they emulate, and which will they over-correct?

People will stare. Make it worth their while.

-Harry Winston

That’s our spark, what’s yours?