Do you know a leader that seems to know the right words and phrases, yet you’re not convinced their words marry up with how they live their life?

I have a mate, Jock, who suggests shadowing a person for two weeks to see how aligned their words are with their behaviour. Following this you’ll have a much better understanding of whether they’re a leader that’s genuinely having a crack at living what they know and say, or are a hypocrite.

As a facilitator working with a diverse mix of leaders and teams, I get genuinely excited when I see the knowledge and words from great leaders align with their actions.

Here’s what this looks like:

“I invest in my team”

During breaks, I see great leaders seeking out a particular individual to ask follow-up questions based on what that person has shared during a session. It’s not just ‘work’ focused, it’s ‘person’ focused. They seek to understand. They enquire. They care.

Great leaders remember personal details shared in previous conversations. I hear things like “How is your Mum’s health?”, “What’s the status with…” “How was your son’s 21st?”

“I am self-aware”

Great leaders continually review their level and weight of spoken input in sessions. Are they dominating? Are they too reserved? Do they need to show more authority? More tact?

Great leaders ask for my feedback. The conversation sounds like; “I’ve decided to hold back to allow others to step up, should I step in more?”, “Am I speaking too much?”, “Do I need to be more directive?”

“I respect people”

They say thanks to catering staff. They clean up after themselves. They let others eat before they do. They pour water for others, then themselves. They put their coffee cup in the bin.

“I ask questions”

In sessions, I hear genuine desire to understand: “Why?” “Why not?” “Tell me more?” “What’s the outcome you’re after?” “What’s your relationship like?” “Who is responsible?” “What are you doing about it?” “How can I help?”

“I take responsibility”

Great leaders take ownership and admit their mistakes.

I hear; “Sorry, I interrupted” or, in a conversation that reveals something they had missed, they’ll say “Sorry, I dropped the ball.”

“I give praise”

Great leaders challenge counterproductive behaviour whilst also freely giving praise.

They understand that a genuine conversation about performance can cover both rewarding and challenging the behaviours that they’ve observed.

These might seem like small things, however, when done, rather than said, I see a natural deepening of the influence, respect and trust that leader is granted by those around them.

If you were shadowed for two weeks, what would others see you do?

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Steve Lacy

Steve Lacy

Steve joined Leading Teams in 2015 following years of facilitating leadership development programs. Steve is a Facilitator based in Adelaide.