Are you a popular leader because you are effective or an effective leader because you are popular?
Whilst it may be a circular argument there is no doubt that being a popular leader with your team improves their engagement and the likelihood that you preside over a more inclusive and positive culture.
The role of a leader is to inspire, influence and direct the performance of people towards achieving the desired goals. Being a popular leader helps you achieve this through higher engagement. This engagement is critical and indeed the high quality ILM72 which measures leadership capability identifies engagement as two of the three core competencies of leadership:
- engagement with individuals
- engagement with teams
- determination to deliver.
Gallup’s 2015 Report on the State of the American Manager, as reported recently in Fast Company magazine, reveals a 70% variance in employee engagement scores according to the likeability of the respondents’ bosses. Fast Company writer Gwen Moran identified ten key attributes from which I have selected my top five.
Here are my top five attributes for you to be a popular leader:
1. You are a clear communicator
Employees by and large hate ambiguity. They need to know where the business is going and what part they need to play on this journey. Clarity in your communication is vital and your popularity improves even further if you seek and value their input as part of the communication and managing operations.
2. You are consistent
After clarity comes consistency. Running hot and cold creates uncertainty and stress and so understandably reduces your popularity because people become distanced by your inconsistency.
3. You trust your team
Two way trust is critical for popularity and engagement. If you give your team members responsibility and trust them to perform their tasks, it not only improves your popularity but over time is much more productive. Your team feels more engaged, more empowered and will work harder to ensure they ‘step up to the plate’ and don’t let you or themselves down. Whilst building trust takes time you can start building rapport straight away.
4. You are self-aware
As a leader you assume the responsibility for setting the tone of the culture. If you are oblivious to the impact of your moods you can make it a miserable place to work without really trying or knowing. However, if you are aware of this you can influence how your team is feeling by managing how you project yourself despite how you might be feeling.
5. You value your team as people
The best leaders are able to work with both emotion and outcomes. Most people will respond positively if they know and feel that you are genuinely interested in them and value them as people who have lives and interests outside work as well as in work. Your interest significantly reduces the barriers and increases their warmth and loyalty.
These were my top five attributes of a popular leader and Moran’s other five were:
- They understand your work
- They let you make mistakes
- They manage up
- They believe in your development
- They have your back
all of which of course are also important.
Read Gwen Moran’s article