A lot has been said about what personality traits and management styles great leaders need to have to succeed. A lot has also been said about how nice leaders finish last. I disagree with that approach, and I will try and share some of my leadership philosophies that I have applied to both my professional and personal life with great success.
I call it HEAR leadership:
A leadership style based on honesty, empathy, accountability and respect … That sounds pretty easy, right? Yet, it always surprises me how most people in leadership roles have no idea of 1) What it takes to be a great leader, and 2) the impact they have on the lives of the people they manage.
“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”
Being a great leader means that it’s no longer about you. It’s only about the people you lead and the growth and success that they experience. As a leader, you have an amazing opportunity to change not only the lives of the people around you, but the many others that touch the people that you lead. In this post, I will dive into what honesty means to your success as a leader.
The bedrock of the HEAR leadership philosophy is honesty. It is not only the first step, but also the hardest. I’m not saying it’s hard to tell the truth, I’m saying that it is hard to be totally candid with people while continuing to motivate them. In today’s transparent social economy, successful leaders need to be utterly honest with the people they lead without insulting them.
That level of honesty has to start with yourself, with a deep knowledge of your innate strengths and weaknesses, both as a leader and as a person. If you are not honest with yourself, how can you be honest with others? Which is why the very first step to successfully implementing HEAR leadership and taking your team (and your life) to the next level is making an honest assessment of who you really are.
Do a S.W.O.T. analysis on yourself and own the results.
- Strengths. Successful leaders naturally focus on what they are good at, and hire people to cover their weaknesses. Identifying strengths will remind you what to focus on.
- Weaknesses. Own up to your weak areas. Do not hide them and, more importantly, do not try and fix all weaknesses. Yes, you may need to fix some of them, but, by surrounding yourself with great people who have strengths that complement your weaknesses, you will be able to focus on doing more of what you excel at.
- Opportunities. Opportunities are a greenfield for both your team and your personal development. Those should be actionable elements in your team or yourself that can positively affect change, immediately.
- Threats. What obstacles do you face? What is or will be standing in your way? Keep threats on the table and make sure to revisit them often to ensure your strategies for progress and communication are adequate – and effective!
Go into this process with an open mind and celebrate your imperfections. Your team will respond to humanness more than a projection of perfection. Most likely, you will not find anything new, but you will be reminded of your inner strengths and weaknesses. That being said, you will be amazed about the (positive!) things you’ve forgotten about yourself. You can use the results to affect positive change in the way you inspire your team and the others around you to succeed.
“But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants.”
— David Ogilvy
When you’re operating with honesty, you have the foundation to build on and make big things happen – to yourself, your team and many, many others that you will never even meet.