Author Michael Hyatt addresses this important issue in a recent blog post, noting that leaders possess more power than they think, but can only use it for good if they truly understand and embrace it. He explains that as leaders, we should continuously remind ourselves of four leadership realities:
- People are aware of our role.
- People notice our behavior.
- People amplify our words and actions.
- People create stories to explain our behavior.
Hyatt explains that though great leaders are often down in the trenches with the troops, the troops are still aware of who the leader is. He explains, “Our people can’t separate us from our role in the organization. Even if it’s only subconscious, they know we can advance, hold back, or derail their careers. This colors their perception and interactions with us.”
The fact that people notice our behavior as leaders should be obvious, but we often forget how closely we’re being watched. Hyatt shares how he observed one of his bosses early in his career: “I noticed how my boss treated his assistant, whether or not he was punctual to meetings, and what he did when he was angry. So did my colleagues. We often spoke of it to one another. We noticed the most trivial details.”
Perhaps the most intimidating aspect of leadership is how much those we lead may amplify our words and actions. Hyatt gives the example, “We may think we are just being firm, but our people see us as angry. ‘He chewed me out,’ she reports to her friends. Or we ask a question, and our people interpret this as a lack of trust.” When you’re a leader, everything you say or do “gets dialed up a click or two.”
The last reminder, that “people create stories to explain our behavior,” is a fact of human nature. He says, “We inherently try to see the patterns behind the facts and create meaning. Sometimes we get the story right; often we get it wrong. Regardless, we knit together the facts and create narratives to make sense of our world.”
Hyatt concludes by urging leaders to not resist these truths, but instead to be more intentional and aware with every word and action; “We are constantly modeling what we believe and expect. It’s not unlike parenting. More is caught than taught.”
This is excellent advice for all leaders, including all healthcare leaders!
To learn more about Michael Hyatt’s excellent resources, go to http://michaelhyatt.com
Copyright © 2012 by Dan Nielsen, Founder
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