I am very privileged to spend most of my time with very good leaders. And when you have the opportunity to ‘watch leadership’, you come away convinced that the best leaders are always ‘on’. Like actors on a stage, leaders know they are always being watched. Is the company in trouble? Are we doing well?
Most of us don’t get the chance to observe leadership because we are in the thick of things but when everyone in your organization believes in you as a leader, a high level of trust develops in your organization.
Kouzes and Posner studied the characteristics of admired leaders in their book, The Leadership Challenge. They found the top characteristics of admired leaders were honesty, vision, and competent. A belief in the leader means the people in your organization trust that you and the other leaders in your organization have integrity, competence, and vision. It means they believe you have the business acumen and talent to succeed, and they believe you are trustworthy.
Competence doesn’t mean brilliance. In fact, Kouzes and Posner found that intelligence ranked low on their list of characteristics. You don’t have to be the smartest person in your organization. Competence means you are reasonably smart (we leave that up to genetics) and you are constantly learning and growing (this part you control). People want to know you try hard, make good decisions, and constantly learn. They want to know you are decisive. Remember, they are always watching!