How Leadership Traits Create a Lifelong Reputation
Do you remember the great people that you worked for and their leadership traits? How about the not-so-great ones? What about your teachers and coaches? I certainly remember the leader who had faith in me when I did not have faith in myself. I remember the hockey coach who, rather than scream at me in the typical coaching style of the 1970s and 1980s era, would ask me why I did what I did and would I do it differently next time? I certainly remember my military leaders, particularly in the war zone, who created confidence in our team when executing high-risk missions. Unfortunately, I also remember the foul-mouthed screamer, the controller, and the completely incompetent leader who relied on rank and title alone to lead. Your reputation as a leader is a lasting legacy whether you are aware of this or not.
Why Is This Important?
The answer is quite simple, but too often overlooked. Be the leader that you want to work for. Conversely, do not be the leader that you did not like did not learn from, and did not remember for positive reasons. Consciously avoid being that person.
One of my tasks in my “Elevate Your Leadership” breakout sessions is to think about the above-mentioned leaders, coaches, teachers, etc… and develop a list of the positive and the negative leadership traits. Each Elevate Your Leadership event produces the same positive and negative traits, every time. On the positive side, we have compassion, vision, integrity, trust, confidence, decisiveness, courage, wisdom, articulation, and communication, humility, strong will, patience, willingness to teach, and finding the value in failure. Among the negative traits are poor listening skills, selfishness, ego-driven, arrogance, manipulation, indecisiveness, loss of self-control, insecurity, and dishonesty. For good, and for not-so-good, I can put a name and face to all of the descriptors.
Leaving a Legacy
What legacy have you left thus far and what legacy will you leave when you decide to leave professional life behind? I certainly have “haters” – those who simply seemed to clash with me no matter what the issue was. My friend and global business celebrity Jeffrey Hayzlett wrote about haters in his book “Think Big, Act Bigger.” Jeffrey states that every successful person, leaders, in particular, have haters. It is almost a rite of passage. As unpleasant as haters can be, they do force us to be introspective and metacognitive, meaning we care about being good and influential leaders.
I am at the point in my professional life where people from the past have reached out for various reasons, a business deal, a request for help with something, or a job opportunity. I also have reached out to people when I think a win-win is a possibility, but only if their reputation is one of honor. Probably most importantly, there are people that I cannot have a business relationship with as their damaged reputation would negatively impact mine.
So, if you care about your reputation in the short, intermediate, and long term, chances are that you will have great people and opportunities circle back. The opposite is also true.