With the 2016 presidential election coming up, the topic of what makes an effective, disciplined leader is top of mind for many people as of late. In light of that, we thought it’d be fun and timely to do a month-long series of blogs touching on themes surfacing in our national election but that also tend to be evergreen. This month’s blogs will be forever relevant to leaders. Today, we want to discuss how although there are many qualities leaders need to be successful, the ability to build and maintain rapport with others is vital. For instance, this is critical if you are aspiring to become a leader, are a new leader, or are the type of proactive leader who consistently executes strategies and change to achieve goals and results. If you’ve been following the political coverage, you’ve been a witness to how the mindsets and actions of the candidates are under constant scrutiny. Everything they think, say and do impacts their relationships with countless audiences, everyone from supporters to non-supporters, media, various demographic groups and, of course, non-U.S. leaders and people worldwide as well. Maybe you’d never consider running for a political office nor will ever experience such a spotlight. However, as a leader, you, too, must consider how your words and actions are subject to inevitable scrutiny. Because of this truth and, more importantly, because it’s simply common leadership sense, respect the value that relationships hold in your leadership credibility and impact. Make the commitment to grow and sustain rapport with your people as well as others beyond your organization who matter relative to your vital role and responsibilities.
Here are a few ways to begin and better relationships:
Choose the Right Words. In MAP’s recent book, “The Disciplined Leader,” we cite Mark Twain who once said, “The difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” The power of the spoken word is so powerful. Without question, you’ve got to say what you mean and mean what you say. Start by thinking before you speak. Prepare for important communication and conversations, planning and practicing what you’re going to say. Also practice a communication style that reflects your values and a high level of professionalism. As cool or funny as it may sound to you or your peers, discontinue any off-color jokes, swearing or other careless language behaviors because more people will be apt to listen to you versus tune you out or turn away. And if you have any doubt about the truth and benefit of what you’re saying, don’t say it. If you must speak up, at least rethink your message and how to frame it in a way that communicates you don’t have all the answers at the time but are working to get them so to better form an opinion, offer a solution, take a stance, etc.
Walk Your Talk. The strongest relationships between disciplined leaders and those they lead are built on trust. And one of the best ways to build that trust is to back your words with actions that demonstrate that you do what you ask of others and honor your commitments. For example, when you demand others to step up and exhibit a greater level of dedication to their job, you must also get your job done according to that same standard. If you say you’re a leader who upholds the value of integrity, your behaviors must support that. And if you’re sold on the idea that accountability matters, you’ve got to implement an accountability tool like the MAP System from the top down, starting with yourself.
Respond to Lessons and Learnings. It’s not unusual for developing leaders to recognize the importance of measuring and assessing the performance of their organization, their teams and their own leadership. However, truly Disciplined Leaders know it’s foolish to turn a blind eye on what they uncover, sweep findings under the rug, or overlook a lesson’s potential value in regard to improving performance, productivity and results. As a leader yourself, whenever you uncover such valuable insights, seize the opportunity to respond through a conscientious effort to take action, be it a corrective action or number of activities that will reinforce any clear, current success. When people know you value accountability and that you will respond when the need to take action arises, their faith in you as a leader will grow, and they will respect you more and relate to you better.
What strategies have you done to build rapport with your people?