Rowena (Ro) Crosbie is the president of Tero International Inc. This is the third in a series on leadership entitled “The Cover Matters”.
In many tangible tasks and activities, how well we are performing can be quickly assessed. For the golfer, you receive immediate feedback by looking at your performance on your last golf swing. This helps inform what adjustments you need to make for the next one.
Most leadership activities are different. Leadership is rarely a repetitive behavior and is never a solitary activity. By definition, leadership is about people. In their classic leadership text, The Leadership Challenge, authors James Kouzes and Barry Posner present research about which behaviors followers consider most important in their leaders. Survey respondents cited four characteristics over 50% of the time.
Unlike a golf swing, these qualities are largely intangible and success can only be assessed over time.
How do we know if we are performing well in areas that don’t allow for immediate feedback?
Long term, your legacy will ultimately confirm your leadership performance. In the short term, exemplary leaders realize that influencing the perceptions others hold of them as they are exercising leadership is critical. Do you look honest? Do you come across as confident, competent and inspiring? Can people tell you are forward-thinking?
Some of the only data available to people entrusted to your leadership on a daily basis is how you look and sound. The pace we walk when we enter a room, the eye contact we make with others, our hand movements, our facial expression and our vocal quality all communicate for us non-verbally – for better or for worse. These behaviors shape the perceptions others hold of us.
Appearances matter. Do a self-audit. How are you perceived?
Is your body language and vocal quality communicating that you are honest, forward-thinking, inspiring and competent? Or do you, like many busy leaders, unintentionally and non-verbally communicate qualities such as impatience, disinterest, insecurity, incapability or uncertainty.