ModKaf presents a three-part series on how to build a sustainable and enviable culture that employees feel proud to be a part of. As we look at a top down and bottom up approach to creating an inclusive and transparent culture, an obvious first step is setting the right tone as a leader.
Before leading out, start by looking in…
Leaders come in all shapes and sizes so you can imagine why leadership models and tool kits aimed at building an authentic persona may not always be a one-size- fits-all solution.
Genuine, resonant leadership starts from within. Too often, leaders don’t take the time to dig deep, lean inward and be honest with themselves about their character and how it shapes their leadership style.
Think about the process as a journey of self awareness. It’s not a light switch that you turn on and off when needed. Instead, self awareness is a constant practice of introspection, re-evaluation and adjustment with every experience. Leadership is personal — that’s why every leader should develop their own individual playbook to define the values that will shape their sense of self inside and outside of an organization.
What makes for a great playbook?
Start with an honest (I mean really honest) self evaluation.
Imagine you’re meeting every employee for the first time and educating them on the “rules of the road” for working with you. By addressing some of the following questions, leaders can begin to shape the characteristics that define their leadership style.
- What values are most important to you as a leader?
- How have these values shaped you personally and professionally?
- What are your expectations of those who work with you?
- What are your quirks (let’s keep ourselves honest about our pet peeves) that those you work with should know about you?
- How do you expect a new idea or a difficult problem to be presented to you?
- How do you like to be communicated with?
- What inspires you?
- What are your strengths or challenges as a leader?
Test your playbook on the road
Once the foundation for your leadership persona has been defined, take the playbook on the road and test theories to ensure they mirror those of your audience. Incorporating a 360-degree approach with familiar faces, less known interactions and anonymous sources is essential to uncover perception. Leaders can use the feedback to adjust their playbook and be ready to present their truths to a broader audience.
Blend past and present experiences to build your story
The final step on the road to becoming a “present” leader is to intertwine experiences from the past with new findings about your character. Create your personal story. What truths have defined your leadership style?
- Be relatable — share challenges, setbacks and opportunities that have shaped your journey and provide memorable examples
- Know your audience — keep your story consistent while aligning your message and tone to your various audiences
- Be authentic — skip the staged remarks and instead view your story as a one-on-one conversation with your audience. This is about persuasion, not perfection.
- Polish your presence — memorable leaders make it look easy, as if they were born with an innate sense of how to make an impact. That ease is the payoff from years of practice and fine-tuning a story built on an evolving sense of self and a true understanding of people’s perceptions of you.
It’s clear that becoming a leader takes time, practice and patience. You can certainly say the same about building a culture of trust and transparency. However, the rewards are well worth the effort and setting the right tone at the top is a logical start to boosting an organization’s culture. Once leaders find their voice of truth, the next step is putting their words into actions. ModKaf will address this topic in our next blog so stay tuned!