Leadership & Management

Lead so others are willingly to follow you, not because they have to

Health Industry Hub | March 11, 2022 |
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Leadership & Management: The most successful leaders don’t position themselves above other people or revel in power and status. Author Dan Pontefract says they make themselves relatable, practice humility, and show care and respect.

Pontefract believes strong leaders lift people up, share knowledge – as opposed to hoarding it – and create diverse, egalitarian teams. He teaches leaders to act with clarity and decisiveness, and to thrive in the face of change and obstacles. 

Strong leaders are relatable, caring and humble. Leaders should prioritise creating meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships. People find transparent, honest and caring leaders relatable, and that inspires them to collaborate. Leaders often fail to be relatable because they won’t admit mistakes or ask for help when they need it. They foolishly pretend to be infallible. People who see themselves as virtuous, fair and relatable – but still can’t admit when they make a mistake – are being dishonest with themselves.

“To become relatable – to be a beacon of forgiveness and kindness, to be humble enough to ask for help – affects the very heart of your leadership,” says Pontefract.

To boost your “relatability quotient,” accept that you’re human and will make mistakes. When you’re wrong, apologise and take appropriate steps to correct your error. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or feedback.

Being a leader should provide a sense of meaning, not a hunger for power. Your leadership should reflect more than a personal quest to become increasingly powerful. Consider your circle: Who do you influence, and who do you serve? If your actions are self-serving and benefit only you and those in your personal, corporate or social circle, you may be living a selfish life. Try to give everyone equal consideration; don’t pick favorites. Consider the impression you make on others over time. If people find you rude, forgetful, power-hungry, malicious or dishonest, you’ll discourage your team and develop a negative reputation.

Pontefract adds “You have a responsibility to think about and define what you are working toward and the impact you might make.”

Embrace a curious mind-set and prioritise lifelong learning. If you maintain a curious state of mind and embrace lifelong learning, people will view you as a more inspiring leader. Prioritise learning by taking actions that make learning a regular activity. For example, set up a team member who is afraid of public speaking to work with a helpful colleague who is skilled at making presentations. Share relevant podcasts or articles with team members to help them expand their knowledge.

“A curious, discreetly confident, question-asking, always-learning attitude is one that people tend to look up to. A learning leader with this attitude inspires others,” he says.

Be curious about the people you lead. Get to know their goals, strengths, and any gaps in their skills or knowledge. Take on the role of a coach, encouraging your team to value lifelong learning. Cultivating a lifelong learner’s mind-set boosts your creativity, credibility and professional reputation.

Change is a constant; embrace it – don’t fight it. Seising new opportunities requires embracing change and accepting an inevitable degree of uncertainty. The ability to embrace change is an important leadership quality – it helps you pre-emptively anticipate obstacles, reduces your stress and anxiety, and leads others to view you as flexible and adaptive. Embrace change to grow as a leader by learning from challenging new situations, instead of avoiding them.

“Your capacity for growth and role success is commensurate with your willingness to embrace change, because within change there is opportunity,” Pontefract notes.

To open yourself to change, shift your mind-set. Accept that change is inevitable. Learn from past mistakes and patterns. Listen empathetically to those who struggle with change. Be open to re-imagining and redefining your priorities and your company values. When hard changes confront you, identify their positive aspects. Don’t be afraid to ask for help navigating change.

Lead by lifting others up. Share your knowledge; don’t isolate yourself. Don’t hoard your knowledge or information with your team to get ahead; that will cause the reverse to happen. Failing to share information on projects with your team can create unnecessary challenges and stress and can hinder your team’s professional development.

“Sharing is at the very heart of leading,” he adds.

Successful leaders value balance over rigid power structures. To earn your employees’ respect and trust, commit to balanced relationships, rather than reinforcing hierarchical power positions.

“Leadership is not to be conducted from a perch. It is a privilege. You must commit to balance. Your ability to be an effective leader depends on it,” Pontefract notes.

Practice humility by showing people care and respect. Leaders who show humility create improved engagement, information sharing and collaboration. No matter your position or age, treating people with care and respect is your responsibility as a leader.

Lead so that others are willingly follow you – not because they have to, not because they are paid to, but because they want to.

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