The Two Top Qualities of A Business Leader & How These Influence Their Teams

by | Aug 23, 2016

exec_coach_blog_dec_10As a manager, your behavior is a major influence on the attitude of your team. Every time you walk into your workplace, start a meeting, ask a question, solicit feedback, or react with reason and intellect, you set the tone for your employees and create an atmosphere for ongoing performance. In this article we explore the top qualities of a business leader.

There are two areas of professional performance of which strong leaders are aware in order to ensure that they’re guiding their teams by example and in the direction they want the organization to go.

Behavior #1: How Leaders “Show Up”

Skimming the psychology of it, how you dress and appear are indications of your level of respect for the group. The way you show up encompasses far more than how you dress, although that is an important component.

  • When walking into your office, do you look like a leader?
  • Does your appearance convey that you care and are ready to work?
  • How does your dress impress those with whom you work?
  • How does your dress affect performance?

A study conducted by the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University gave one group of participants white doctors’ coats, and then asked them to perform a psychological test. Another group was given identical coats but was told that they were “painters’ coats.” The first group performed much better, was more attentive, and made half as many errors. Researcher Adam Galinsky says, “It’s the simultaneous combination of the posture or the clothes and the symbolic meaning of them that matters.” So, while the coat—or professional attire—doesn’t make the man (or woman), it seems to help him or her perform and consequently lead more effectively.

Equally important is your timeliness and attitude.

  • Do you arrive at meetings late or leave early?
  • Do you give the impression that your time is worth more than that of your team?
  • Do you value the time and schedules of your direct reports?
  • Do you demonstrate your willingness to go the extra mile when required?

All of these behaviors are indicative of your overall attitude. Your example will guide your team, so where do you want it to take them?

“Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” — Vince Lombardi

Behavior #2: How Leaders Communicate

When communicating with your team:

  • Do you talk more than listen?
  • Do you give the impression that you are the only one with ideas?
  • Do you convey a “just listen to me and do what I say” attitude, or are you careful with your communications, both verbal and nonverbal?
  • Do you allow others to be creative and expressive in their own thought processes?

These nuances are critical to your success as a leader. As Chester Elton says, “Through their example, leaders can create openness, which leads to trust and is a major contribution to a culture in which employees are engaged, enabled and energized to give more effort.”

Understanding Communication Styles of Those on Your Team

As a leader, being cognizant of the nuances of your “staff” is about using your intelligence to get the biggest bang for your buck. If, for instance, you have a High S (DiSC style) on the team, that individual will need to know there is a good captain at the helm; a High C (DiSC style) wants to be assured that the compasses and navigation systems are in working order. Appreciating the diverse personalities of your team members and tailoring your communications to others’ listening styles (e.g., speaking to them in the most effective way and making room for them to speak to each other and to us) can have a profound effect on performance.

Deviate from Your Own Norms

As managers, we often cannot afford to “act naturally,” allowing our moods, personal preferences, or personal baggage to weigh on us and affect how we show up or communicate. I have often encouraged my management team to practice “deviant behavior.” In other words, we seem to be hard-wired to react to situations through the lens of our experiences and belief systems. When we respond without thinking, through the consequences of our reactions, we allow emotion to be our guide.

As a manager, you are playing a role, and it is important to avoid your natural tendencies to react spontaneously and emotionally. By deviating from your natural tendencies, and using your intelligence to guide your actions, you can develop better solutions and create an example that your teams will want to follow.

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