By Neil Phillips

I have had the opportunity to observe many leaders in business, some are field leaders while others are corporate. When I think back, there are some people who commanded leadership through their person, not their position.  They were authentic leaders.  They understood people. They cast vision.  They built alignment to goals. They were and still are fun loving, humble people.

Authentic leadership begins with doing the things that you ask others to do.  I’m sure you’ve heard the old expression, “Do what I say, not what I do.”  That won’t get you very far.

If you don’t do what you tell others to do, then you appear to be a hypocrite, arrogant, or inauthentic.  You’ll lose respect and with it your credibility to attract and keep people on your team.

What can you do?  Here’s how to get started.

Be on time.  While you may think your activities are more important, that doesn’t cut it with your team.  Look through their eyes.  When you are late, you are saying (with your actions) that they are less important than you.  If you are going to be late, let them know.  Be respectful.

Keep your commitments or change them. If you promise to follow up, do it. Or change your commitment by asking the person to follow up with you.  If you commit to sending material, doing a meeting, keep that commitment or change it.

Be professional.  Do you really want to be known for your tantrums?  How about getting a reputation as having a short fuse and explosive temper?  Do negative people seek you out to share gloom and doom?

  • Don’t swear
  • Don’t raise your voice
  • Be polite. Say please, thank you, and hold doors for people.
  • Correct in private. When I first started in direct sales, I was given some advice that I’ve tried to follow religiously.  You praise in public and fix in private.  No one likes to be demeaned in front of the group.

Take responsibility.  If something goes wrong under your direction, admit your mistake. There’s some very good research to indicate that accepting responsibility is the first step to improvement.  It also lets your team know that it’s okay to make mistakes and that you’ll work to fix things.  Don’t be afraid to apologize.  Saving the relationship may be more important than refusing responsibility for failure.

Share the successes.  Really, you didn’t do it all on your own.  When the accolades come, you need to share them.  Catch your team doing things right and tell them that.  Share the glory in both public and private.

Always Be Learning.  Leaders know that when you stop learning, you stop growing as an individual and as a leader.  Genuine leaders are always looking for new ideas they can learn, improve, and pass on.

You may be the leader.  When you act like one, your people will keep you there.

Who Helps You Get Better?

Since you are known by the company you keep, maybe you want to find some positive, sharing, authentic leaders to who want to hang with you.

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