Up the “Fan Factor” with Your Teams
Many leaders freely admit that because of their unique leadership position, it can be “lonely” at the top. But while it’s natural for leaders to want to feel like they’re part of the group, it’s far more important for leaders to be respected than liked by their direct reports. Interestingly, when leaders focus their efforts around building and sustaining respect—more so than friendships—they tend to naturally develop an incredibly loyal fan-base of employees who will do practically anything and everything to perform for and remain with such leaders, even through thick and thin. If you are secretly wishing to up your “Fan Factor” with your teams, try to make a change in your mindset, recognizing that what you really need is to take action around gaining your people’s respect.
Here are three proven ways to do that:
- Put the brakes on favoritism. At work, it’s natural to want to be friendly, considerate and as kind as you can. But as discussed in MAP’s book, “The Disciplined Leader,” it’s when you share common interests with certain employees (and not others) that favoritism can sometimes develop and even become problematic. So be on guard for this common tendency…think about how you’re perhaps treating some of your people differently than others. For example, maybe you always talk sports with certain staff members—and there’s no harm in that. But if you then fail to engage regularly with other employees on topics they like to chat about, your behavior may be viewed as biased. You are going to like certain people more than others simply because you have more things in common. But if you’re falling into the buddy trap, becoming friends with some people and not others or showing favoritism, create an action plan to get back across that dangerous line, which can wreck havoc on your responsibility to build and sustain your people’s respect.
- Check your communication. One of the biggest reasons why people often struggle with respecting leadership is that the channels of communication between leaders and their people are or become weak. For example, when people have feedback to share, if they can’t do so in a way that’s efficient and effective, they’ll struggle to feel validated—and that their thoughts, opinions and solutions matter. Likewise, when leaders don’t have the right tools in place to share important messages, solicit feedback, and build critical buy-in, it will be tough for them to create understanding, validate success, and grow the confidence of their people. Solid, consistent communication strategies are vital for carrying out your role as a leader and, quite honestly, if you struggle with this aspect of your leadership, you’ll face challenges commanding the respect of your people.
- Hold everyone accountable. One of the best ways to build respect and even a “fan base” is to make everyone deliver in ways that are fair yet equally challenging according to the goals and expectations set before them. For all employees, document equitable performance whether that’s through the MAP Vital Factors System or another approach to accountability. Be equitable and consistent about how you measure performance and recognize employees. Then don’t forget to spread recognition around, finding opportunities to honor everyone, giving credit whenever it’s due to as many people as possible. You’ll find that not only does this build respect for you and your leadership style, but it will also drive greater company performance and more consistently deliver the results that you, as a leader, both want and need.
What else can you do to generate the “Fan Factor” (or respect) of your people?