Everyone has experienced being completely transfixed when looking into a fish tank. We love aquariums for a lot of reasons: their soothing ambiance, the feeling of satisfaction that comes from keeping a living thing alive, etc.. Perhaps though, we love them so much because they expose the rich personal lives of fish–a creature that is normally hidden behind a watery veil.
Now put yourself on the other side of the glass. There’s nowhere to hide when you’re a domesticated tank pet. Day-in and day-out, someone is there to observe your every movement. On top of that, you can expect the daily tap at the glass aimed to elicit a reaction out of you.
If you’re a leader, you might know what this feels like. You operate every day in “the fishbowl”– Everything you do and say is observed and analyzed by your organization. You are constantly being watched by stakeholders–employees, shareholders, customers–and along with the persistent attention comes the responsibility to set the tone for how your business should operate. How can you be a symbol for progress and productivity in your organization?
They’re Watching. From the minute you step foot in the office to the moment you leave each day, the people you lead are watching (cue Rockwell’s 1984 synth pop hit “Somebody’s Watching Me”). They’re watching for nonverbal cues on how to act while at work, how to feel about the company they work for, and how to approach problems that appear in front of them. Your job is not only to give direction, but to show your team how to behave as part of the organization. You do this by setting an example every day. Be the model employee you want out of your team members by working hard, taking action, tackling problems with determination and creativity, and doing so with enthusiasm and vision.
Actions Speak a Thousand Words. Being in the fishbowl means nothing goes unnoticed. Your team will take direction from your tone and body language as much as–if not more than– from your words. If you come to work looking like you don’t want to be there, guess what; you’re telling your employees that they shouldn’t either. If you have an “off” day, there’s a good chance they will too. That’s not to say you need to stroll in to the office everyday with a smile on your face, but a smile and a simple “good morning” go a long way when you’re a leader. It’s critical for the whole organization that you show up with an attitude that says, “I’m energized and ready to work my butt off today to make things happen for this company.”
“Say What?!” Communicating is a huge part of being a leader. If you want to inspire, engage, and empower successful teams, you’ll need others to listen well and then take action. As a leader, it’s imperative to speak so that people want to listen; talk with people, not at them. Cut the negativity, dogmatism, and excuses. Communicate intentionally with authenticity and consistency. Use every communication opportunity to reinforce where your company is going and why.
Be The Leader Your Team Needs. Understand how people interpret your actions as a leader. Ruling with an iron fist might have worked in the past, but today if you want to inspire your employees, it take a little more finesse. You’re expected to be compassionate and empathetic and at the same time thick-skinned, and determined. Find a balance between hard and soft that works for your organization’s culture. It’s your job to be the leader your employees need to stay motivated, disciplined, and productive.
It’s tough–really tough– to be a good leader. However, it is one of the most rewarding roles you could ever be given! You have the incredible opportunity to take a group of people to a place they never thought they could go!
Brian Gora | Speaker & Consultant, Conversion-omics
This former US Aviation Officer, Combat Veteran and Fortune 500 Global Sr Exec, has been there and done that. His unique perspective is an essential part of creating a culture of leadership. Contact Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit conversion-omics.com/team today to learn what he can do to develop leaders and ignite a culture of leadership in your organization!