You may feel that you’re doing a good job leading your team. But are you sure you’re striking the best possible balance between commanding respect while still remaining accessible? Do your employees really appreciate your style of leadership? Is there a chance that any of your actions are breeding resentment in the workplace?
You can’t exactly ask your people these questions point-blank – not if you want honest answers. But there are other ways to find out what your team really thinks of you, with these questions.
- Do you know what their nonverbal cues are saying? Even when people aren’t giving you verbal feedback, everything from their facial expressions and gestures to their posture and body language are speaking to you. These cues can provide vital feedback about how your words and actions are being received. Knowing how to spot contradictions between someone’s words and their body language will greatly increase your ability to accurately perceive what’s really being said.
(It’s also important to be aware of your own nonverbal behaviors. They tell others whether or not you care, if you’re being truthful, and how well you’re listening. When your nonverbal signals match up with the words you’re saying, they increase trust, clarity, and rapport. When they don’t, they can generate tension, mistrust, and confusion.)
- Have you empowered anyone lately? Good leaders know they aren’t always the best person for every job. They recognize that delegation means more than simply passing a task on to someone else. It means trusting and believing that your employees are qualified to handle the task given to them. When you delegate to others, you show that you have confidence in their abilities, which in turn empowers them, and empowered employees appreciate their leaders. Your only job, once you’ve delegated a task, is to provide your people with all the resources and support they need to achieve their objectives.
- Do people know what you expect of them? When people are clear about exactly what you want them to do, they’ll be more sure of themselves, and as a result, they’ll be more productive and respect you more as a leader. When people are unsure about what you want, they can become wary and defensive, and uncertainty isn’t conducive to a healthy or happy working environment. If you set out your expectations and goals clearly, people will be eager to meet and exceed them.
- Do you inspire others to achieve? The best leaders know the difference between commanding and leading. Commanding means insisting that team members get results. Leading means inspiring people to want to get results. There’s a huge difference between the two. When people are inspired, they respect and care about their leader, and are willing to do everything they can to achieve their objectives (rather than toil unenthusiastically for a taskmaster they neither respect nor appreciate).
- Are you being the best role model you can be? Good leaders know that if they want to achieve greatness, they have to first seek it in themselves and then set the example through the things they say and do – and when their actions and deeds are aligned, others will want to emulate them. Those actions and deeds include being genuinely passionate about ideas and goals, helping your entire team feel included in the process, and offering recognition, praise, and rewards for each person’s accomplishments along the way.
Finding out whether you’re a good leader isn’t all that difficult; it simply requires the courage to ask yourself a few hard questions. If you’ve done your best throughout your career, the answer will certainly be “Yes, you are indeed a good leader… but there’s always room for improvement!”