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Are you being effective as a leader? And, is your boss seeing you as being so? Separate from performance and target measures, what leads to our promotion or demise is how well we hear the perspectives of others. Everyone around you has a perspective on your leadership style and effectiveness. Whether or not people know you, your challenges, or your past successes, how they see you from where they are – their perspective of you – matters to your future.
Many leaders focus on producing results that their bosses will like, rather than creating results that matter – including being attentive to people outside of their circle of comfort. Sooner or later, this style will come to bite the leader, though, as negative perceptions of their leadership spread without them knowing.
Building a climate where people know it is safe to share perspectives different from your own takes sincere effort. A few years ago, I could not understand why my team was not taking me up on my invitation to share their thoughts on my leadership. Me saying that it was safe to speak up did not make it so for them. Work with your team to make it safe to share thoughts – but instead of giving feedback (no, sandwiched feedback doesn’t work either), try offering perspectives, keeping common goals in mind.
People don’t all perceive what (and how) you say, or do, the same way. How individuals experience you impacts them differently depending on their personality, the role they are in, and their prior experiences. If you are not listening to – and hearing – your team’s varied perspectives of you as a leader, you may not really know what’s going on around you. That is a huge unmanaged risk.
Being called into the boss’s office to be fired can often be prevented by being a genuine listener to people’s perspectives. Being able to receive (as well as offer) useful feedback requires a more personal connection with the people we work with. Start by changing how and where you have these conversations – take a colleague for a walk, be interested in their life away from the office, and share some of yours. The signal you send is that you care, you are approachable, and sharing a perspective that is different from the other person’s is safe. Get to know your team and they’ll reciprocate by sharing and showing an interest in you. Hearing their perspectives will be invaluable to your success as a leader – and it will feel better, too!