If you ask some people how they feel about their boss as a leader, they might say “It depends on what day it is.” Some leaders’ moods and behaviours are subject to things as random as their morning commute, the day’s financials, or whether they skipped breakfast. They can be relaxed and pleasant one day and snarling the next. Ken Blanchard, cofounder Officer of The Ken Blanchard Companies. once worked with a company where a few managers who reported to a vice president confided in him that they never knew which version of the boss was going to appear. Sometimes the VP would be fun and other times he would attack. The managers even took bets on which one of them was going to trigger his wrath that day! Sound familiar?
When leaders show up in different ways on different days, direct reports can’t help but be confused. They don’t know what to expect from their leader or what their leader expects from them. This can be detrimental not only for the workers, but also for the leaders and their organisations in terms of employee retention—especially now during the “Great Resignation.” In fact, studies show that less than half of employees don’t know what is expected of them—and 75% of workers say the most stressful aspect of their job is their immediate boss.
A Proven Approach for Leadership Success
In his book The Leadership Engine, Noel Tichy proves through his extensive research that the most effective leaders have a clear, teachable point of view they are willing to share with the people they work with. These leaders know what to expect from themselves and their people so that, together, they and their organisations can succeed.
Blanchard and his life partner realised that leaders who identified and shared their leadership point of view had a crystal clear picture of their intentions as a leader. They were so fascinated with this approach that, along with the company cofounder Pat Zigarmi, they created a course called “Communicating Your Leadership Point of View” and teach it as part of the Master of Science in Executive Leadership degree program at the University of San Diego.
Determining Your Leadership Point of View
When reflecting on and composing your own leadership point of view, focus on these three elements:
Think of key people and events that have influenced your life and your beliefs about leadership
Identify and define your values in terms of your leadership
Detail your expectations of yourself and of others, as well as what others can expect of you
It’s important to take your time with this exercise. As you write, think of the effect sharing your leadership beliefs, values, and expectations will have on your people—how they will feel knowing you care enough to share your feelings about yourself as a leader. Good leadership is a side-by-side partnership. Communicating your leadership point of view to your team members gives them a sense of connection with you because it clarifies the leader you endeavour to be.
Following Up is Crucial
This point may seem obvious, but Blanchard believes it needs to be emphasised: great leaders must walk their talk.
After you share your leadership point of view, your people will be watching to see whether your behaviour matches your words. Get ahead of this by giving them permission to give you feedback. After all, you have just finished telling them who you really want to be as a leader—now show them. Let them know you are accountable and want your actions to align with your values. Say something like “Now I need to ask you for your help. Even though I strive to achieve these standards every day, I sometimes fall short. Anytime you see me diverting from the behaviours I’ve just described, let me know. Your honest feedback will help me be more consistent in my leadership style so that I can be the leader you need me to be.”
Sharing your leadership story means your people won’t have to guess how you will show up each morning. You have stated in your own words the kind of leader you want to be and have given them permission to hold you accountable. It’s a powerful way to define and demonstrate your leadership style, to instill trust, confidence, and loyalty in your team members, and to strengthen your own feelings about yourself as a leader.
What’s your leadership legacy? How do you want to be seen as a leader? How do you want to be remembered? Your leadership point of view is something only you can give. It’s your signature—your unique perspective on leadership. Let your people know who you are.
About the authors:
Ken Blanchard is cofounder and Chief Spiritual Officer of The Ken Blanchard Companies. Best known as the coauthor of The One Minute Manager, as well as 65 other books.