#5 Barrier to Leadership – Not Believing | aboutleaders.com
April 18, 2013

3 Leadership Skills

There is a leadership saying that goes like this: Be sure to share a piece of your heart instead of always sharing a piece of your mind.

What does it mean to share a piece of your heart when you are a leader?

First of all, to lead from the heart means you must enjoy working with people.

Several years ago I had a mentor, named Spence, say, “Mary Kay, visualize sitting right next to the person – working with them side by side. Believe that you really care about what that person needs vs. what you need.”

Wow! This was new territory for me and definitely something I wasn’t practicing as a new business owner. Yes, I valued people, but in reality people were annoying to me. They frustrated me, as they wouldn’t do simple things like:

  • Come to work every day to actually work
  • Do what they say they would do
  • Follow through on assigned tasks
  • Take pride in what they do

Very Frustrating!!

I told Spence, “Really? People can’t just do their job?”

Back in the day, I was really good at giving people a piece of my mind – letting them know that for them to continue to work with me they needed to be a “product of the product”. This meant they needed to be a good time manager, be an effective communicator, and most of all be a person that follows though on commitments. When people were not a product of the product, I would typically get very frustrated and feel like I was spinning my wheels.

Leaders Spinning Wheels

Changing Me

I was the leader and I was creating the people problems.

Through deep self-reflection I discovered that I really liked to teach, coach, mentor, and make a difference, but what I wasn’t doing was “enjoying people”. If you are in the people business (which all of us are) that can be a problem! I enjoyed the process and content of the business, but when it came to getting results through people I would rather just do it myself.

Have any of you had this same experience?

Leading with My Heart!

I was trying to control and fix people.

This was a huge life changer for me. One of those “ah ha” moments where the light bulb goes on.

Today, while working with all types of people in all types of industries I hear employees say, “My leader is more interested in the job than me!” When conducting interviews and compiling feedback for this Barriers to Leadership Series, employees revealed they need their leaders to spend less time on the management side of the business and focus on sincerely leading with their heart.

What does that mean? Engagement? Trust? Talk to them more? Listen?

Yes, these are leadership terms and actions that impact great leadership – but let’s be more specific.

Our followers want three things:

  • Someone to Believe In
  • Something to Believe In; and
  • Someone to Believe in Them

Someone to Believe In

Are you someone that people want to follow?

Do people look up to you because you are an example of leadership? I’m not talking about being perfect – we know that type of leader doesn’t exist. When you believe in someone you will do anything for him or her. They inspire you to “want to” follow based on his or her character.

People follow great leaders because of who they are as a person not because of what they do in the business or their title. People follow people by their actions – not their words.

This reminds me of Kouzes and Posner’s (2010) latest book where the authors point out if you don’t lead by example you really don’t need to lead at all. What could you do today to be a person someone wants to believe in? Can people count on you to do the right thing in times of adversity? These are tough questions that help us grow, develop, and build our character.

Something to Believe In

If you don’t believe in what you are doing how can someone else?

Great leaders have the energy and passion to create excitement about the next event, the next project, and what you can do to help make it happen. They help you envision where you are headed in the organization and how your efforts affect the success of individuals, teams, and the organization.

If you don’t believe in what you are doing, talk to your manager right away and converse about the purpose of what you do, how your role impacts team members, and overall how you are a part of the organization’s mission. Each day become passionate about what you do and infect others with your passion.

Believe In Me

Someone to Believe in Them

When someone believes in you they are more convinced of your success than you are.

You will know when someone believes in you because they are convinced you will succeed when you have serious doubts about what to do next. This type of leader stays committed when you are ready to quit. They provide a forum where you feel safe and supported to brainstorm, rehearse, and formulate your ideas. They have your back and are confident in you.

Leadership Skills TakeawayI hope after you have read this article you will remember that people want 3 things: someone to believe in, something to believe in, and someone to believe in them.

Spread the word and lead from your heart!

I’d Like to Hear From You

What can you do enhance belief in others? How has someone that believed in you impacted your success? Please comment below. Thanks!

Want more leadership inspiration? Download our ultimate eBook with our easy to use Motivational Checklist.

Kouzes, J. J. & Posner, B.Z. (2010). The truth about leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Dr. Mary Kay Whitaker

Mary Kay is a hype-free business strategist, speaker, author and co-founder of About Leaders. She’s consulted with hundreds of companies and trained thousands of leaders including DOE, NNSA, Mars Petcare, Future Foam, Cornell Cookson. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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