Recently, I saw a friend’s post on LinkedIn in which she wrote about leadership styles as well as her promotion to vice president of her company. “Leaders don’t force people to follow,” she wrote. “They invite them on a journey.” She concluded with: “I have been invited!”
That’s all well and good, and I congratulated her. However, she didn’t say exactly how one “gets invited.”
A way to “get invited” is to be a role model leader, the prerequisite of which is having a role model personality. Some people have a role model personality quite naturally, while others don’t have one at all, or have only a few of the attributes of one. For those of us who have some deficiencies in this regard, let’s deepen our learning and talk about what a role model personality is and whether you have one.
According to a study led by Northwestern University, there are four personality types:
4. Role model
This article focuses only on the last of the four. We’ll start by recognizing that leaders with a role model personality score highly when it comes to:
• Extraversion (outgoing, social, eloquent, charming and energetic)
• Openness (intellectual and emotionally intelligent, curious, insightful and bold)
• Conscientiousness (ambitious, organized, efficient, dependable and resourceful)
Also, strong leaders demonstrate a large amount of agreeableness, which includes being patient, compassionate, altruistic, trustworthy, tactful and open to new ideas.
So, how do you score yourself as to these factors? How do others rate you? A few minutes of introspection and some candid feedback from friends, acquaintances and fellow employees should give you a pretty good idea. If you conclude that you don’t have a role model personality but want to have one, here are a few tips to help you develop one.
1. Get your ego out of it.
Ego is your self-constructed image of yourself, which can be highly inaccurate or even totally false. However, your ego is what makes you feel important and provides the basis for your operation in the world as an independent entity. It also has a role in making sure your needs are met. But, without further prompting or training, it does not make you aware of the needs of others, much less assist you in meeting those needs. For this, you need to be consciously aware that whatever journey you’re on, it should not just be your journey, but a journey taken with others.
Making sure you enroll others to follow you as invested team members is what will allow you to stand out as a respected and effective leader. You have to listen to them, empathize with them and act and speak as if they matter to you. You’ll know you’re getting there when most of your sentences do not begin with “I” or “my,” but instead regularly include “you,” “your,” “we” and “our.”
2. Understand where you stand.
I call this “checking your reality.” Of course, you can’t hope to understand and motivate others unless you know yourself, including your personality type. You must be aware of how you’re coming across and being received, and, where necessary, modify your behavior accordingly. This is best done by honing your curiosity and developing the ability to read other people as they offer verbal and non-verbal feedback.
Take the time to listen, really listen. Read between the lines. Ask questions. Read the impact you are having. Be honest with yourself and transparent with others. If you discover that you have leadership gaps, create a S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely) development plan to deal with them.
3. Measure and increase your emotional intelligence.
You enroll others by taking the time to learn about their needs, remaining curious about them as persons and by using your emotional intelligence composites such as self-awareness, empathy and committed interpersonal relationships. Your level of emotional intelligence is probably the single most important factor in inspiring people to follow you. Succinctly put, moving from me to we is the main thing that will distinguish you as an authentic, innovative leader.
4. Master your coaching skills.
You can grow people toward achieving their full potential by communicating a clear vision of your goals and expectations and by building respectful relationships reflecting that you are all part of a team. Coaching skills include asking open-ended questions and being curious, using intuitive listening and supportive encouragement, practicing a challenging approach and providing instructions, giving feedback and setting stimulated goals, building collaborative relations and compassionate motivation, etc. By using your coaching skills, you can support your reports to reach their full potential.
So, how do you know if you have a leadership role model personality? Look for the feedback from your followers. Do they share your clear vision and tag along for the journey? Just like my friend who wrote the LinkedIn post, they’re not forced, they’re invited.
This article was originally published in Forbes.
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