3 Ways to Be a More Authentic Leader

Leadership

When coming up with a list of essential leadership skills, it’s not uncommon to see words like “coaching” or “visionary” come up. While such skills are undoubtedly necessary, another skill has emerged as essential in modern leadership; authenticity.

Like many words and skills today, its true meaning has been hijacked. The word authentic is traditionally defined as “real or genuine; not copied or false.” When used in the context of leadership, I describe it as, “how a leader demonstrates and shares their genuine values, stories, and desires.” If the definition wasn’t clear enough, I want you to remember this leadership truth about authenticity:

Authentic leaders forge strong relationships and inspire others to bring their human self to work.

Are Today’s Leaders Authentic?

We have new leaders emerge every generation, but one truth endures; we become the leaders we watch, hear, and experience. Unfortunately, many current leaders who were exposed to inauthentic leadership are now leading the same way. They withhold the truth, act like they have it all figured out, and leverage people to serve their needs. While I believe people can change and remain hopeful those leading this way would take a different approach, those are challenging habits to break. 

Luckily, many of today’s leaders appear to be fed up with being fake and are committed to being authentically human in their approach. 

The best leaders aren’t fake and are committed to being authentically human in their approach. 

Whatever your leadership journey has looked like so far, here are a few ideas for how to be more authentic as a leader:

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1. Share Personal Stories

There is a long list of things you can do to be an authentic leader, but sharing personal stories is at the top of the list.  

I asked Kara Goldin, founder of Hint and author of Undaunted, “Why is being an authentic leader so critical in today’s environment?” on the Follow My Lead Podcast. Her response was fantastic. “The best leaders are authentic and willing to share their story and struggles. The reason is people understand through stories who you are and what you are trying to achieve.”

Not only is Goldin correct, when leaders share their personal stories and struggles, it reveals their humanity to others. It fosters trust and makes leaders relatable.  

There is a fine line between sharing personal stories and oversharing information that makes people uncomfortable. The questions I coach leaders to answer before sharing a story are these: 

  1. “Is this going to help your people know you or relate to your perspective better?” 
  2. Does this story demonstrate empathy for their situation?”  

If the answer is yes to either of those questions, all it takes is the courage to share it. 

2. Tell the Truth

All too often, when there are things leaders must say to people, they avoid the topic or sugarcoat it so much that the truth never comes out. Authentic leaders refuse to fall into this trap and lean on telling the truth, even when it’s hard. The truth needs no crutches. I like to think of opinions versus reality this way. 

Opinions are overrated, and truths are underrated. 

Now that you know that telling the truth is an essential element of being an authentic leader, the secret is how you tell the truth. If you share the facts empathetically, it enhances the potential that someone is open to doing something different. However, if you speak condescending or come from a place of superiority, you will almost certainly get the inverse of your intended effect, 

3. Inspire With Hope

The reality of a situation isn’t always what we want to hear. This is why the most authentic leaders always paint a picture of hope if people decide to do things differently.  

“The most authentic leaders always paint a picture of hope.”

Napoleon famously said, “a leader’s role is to define reality, then give hope.” The longer I have studied great leaders, the more I recognize that they are constantly looking for opportunities to give hope. The world we live and work in is hard and constantly changing. Having a leader in a relentless pursuit of a better future is inspiring. 

Closing

There is nothing worse than a leader who believes they are tricking their people into thinking they are someone they are not. While it might last for a while, the truth always comes out. If you find yourself in a similar situation right now, I urge you to start the journey now of being a more authentic leader. 

Developing the skill of authenticity is a requirement to be a great leader. However, it isn’t easy and often takes decades to master it. Start small and focus on sharing personal stories, telling the truth, and inspiring with hope. 

The better you get at these three things, the more likely your people will look at you as someone authentic.  

About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

5 Things Modern Employees Need to Be Fully Engaged

education

Modern employees have needs—a lot of them. The typical needs revolve around fair compensation, exciting work, and being a part of a team. 

Meeting these basic needs as a leader is essential to have engaged, productive, and positive team members over time. However, it’s meeting a team member’s advanced needs where the difference between a manager and a leader begins to emerge.

Managers meet their team’s basic needs, leaders meet their team’s advanced needs.

Difference Between a Want, Need, and an Advanced Need

It’s common to use the words want and need interchangeably. Just for the sake of clarity, there is a slight distinction between the two. 

Want: have a desire to possess or do something; wish for

Need: require something because it’s essential or very important rather than just desirable.

The difference between an employee’s basic needs and their advanced needs is slightly more complicated. Most people are familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs; when it comes to employees, the basic needs are essential and fall within Maslow’s “deficiency needs” (physiological, safety, belonging, esteem). Maslow’s top-level, known as “growth needs,” by definition, growth needs do not stem from the lack of something, but rather the desire to grow as a person. This is precisely where most of the advanced needs employees desire now live.   

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Since this pandemic has changed many of us in ways we couldn’t imagine, the advanced needs of employees have evolved. Here are five things modern employees need, whether they know it or not, that all leaders must know.  

1. They “Need” a Flexible Schedule

The jury is still out on what companies will do with the work from home model post-pandemic. Companies like Ford and others have adopted permanent work from home policies. The future of work is almost certainly a hybrid model.  

Regardless of your company’s WFH policy moving forward, professionals have had a taste of flexibility, and they loved it. Whether it be having family dinner at 5:30, workouts during breaks in the calendar, working from a tropical desk, or avoiding rush hour traffic, flexibility is now essential. I would go as far as to say, companies and bosses that offer no flexibility will be forced to overpay for talented team members.  

“The best leaders will embrace calendar flexibility to attract and retain top talent.”

While there are industries and situations where being in the same room has enormous advantages and will always be required, leaders who embrace flexibility will attract and retain top talent.  

2. They “Need” Development Opportunities

A lightbulb has turned on for many professionals thanks to the ease of access to educational content. We no longer need to wait for the next company-wide training event to grow and develop our skills. It turns out that having a growth mindset is one of the essential things professionals need to adopt. 

The best leaders provide development opportunities to encourage their people to have a growth mindset. Things like workshops, seminars, conferences, books, and lunch & learns are great ways to help employees scratch their development needs. 

3. They “Need” to Be Empowered to Make Decisions

No one likes to be micromanaged, but most managers ignore this because they don’t believe they are the micromanaging type. Indeed defines micromanagement as; a management style that involves the close supervision of an employee by their manager.  

Too many managers second guess every decision their people make in fear of losing control or the belief that no one can do the work as well as they can. Micromanagement is a hurdle every manager can and must overcome because employees have an advanced need to be empowered to make decisions.  

In his new book Winning the War in Your Mind, Craig Groeschel said, “The strength of your organization is not a reflection of what you control, it’s who you empower.”

Not only is Groeschel correct but he should have you asking yourself the question, “Can you let go and allow your people to do their best work?

4. They “Need” You to Behave Like a Coach

You might think I am a broken record, writing about managers behaving and acting like a coach, but I will not stop until it starts to become a reality. It is the most crucial skill for a manager to develop today.  (See if the next Coaching for Excellence workshop is for you.)

Coaching is the most crucial skill for managers to develop in the modern workforce. 

We love to believe people are self-made, but that has never been true. It’s often the coaching of someone else that helps us become the best version of ourselves and grow our self-belief. Since most professionals or HR budgets don’t set aside a budget for an external coach, this responsibility falls squarely on the manager’s shoulder.  

If you aren’t comfortable with playing the role of a coach, at a minimum, equip yourself with a couple of great coaching questions:

  • What do you think we should do to create the best result for everyone?
  • If you are saying yes to this, what are you saying no to? (Out of the Michael Bungay Stanier Playbook)

5. They “Need” You to Share the Truth

This one might have caught you by surprise, but in order to grow, people need the truth. Unfortunately, too many managers and executives avoid sharing the truth with people in fear of how they might react or them leaving altogether.

Take Brent the CEO of a small business as an example. During a coaching conversation, he said something that caught me by surprise. “John, I just can’t fire this person on my team. She has been there too long and has added value over the years. Having said that, she doesn’t put in the maximum effort anymore and brings a lot of negativity into the office.” Without beating him up, I just asked him a simple question, “If someone had information about you that was true that would help you improve, would you want them to share it with you?” Without hesitation, he said “yes.”  

Part of your job as a leader is to share the truth with people and that requires courage. I wrote about courage here, but I define it in Building the Best as, “Being frightened and deciding to do it anyway.” Choose courage and share the truth with your team.

In the comments below, tell me what you think. What advanced employee needs are you experiencing yourself or have observed with your people?

Leveraging Accountability in Leadership: The development of your accountability skills will make a tremendous difference in helping you lead your best in 2021. Join me for the next Leveraging Accountability in Leadership Workshop.  

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About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

Simple Phrases Great Leaders Say to Their Team

communication

Managers are constantly communicating with their employees to transfer knowledge and information. This communication is crucial to the success of any team or organization; but, only if it is performed appropriately. Barking orders, giving directives, inserting negative comments, and providing unempathetic feedback are also communication methods, but they won’t give you the same success rate.  

Anyone is susceptible to getting caught up in the daily hustle and forget the weight and consequences of the words they use, neglect to use, or how they affect other people.  

Great leaders don’t lose sight of the power of their words, even long after they have said them.

John Eades

Early in my career leading a business division, I had yet to grasp this important concept. At the end of a one-on-one performance review, a team member asked if they could provide feedback to me after I finished her review. My team member said, “Recently, your attitude and words have taken a pessimistic and negative turn with myself and others. It seems you are highlighting everything the group is doing wrong versus the things we are doing right. While I know you are a positive person, this has become a pattern, and it’s wearing on the team and me.”  

My first reaction was to get defensive and make excuses. Instead, I thanked her for her courage and agreed to do some self-reflection. Over the next few days, I evaluated her specific examples and concluded she was speaking the truth. She told me because she cared and wanted me to improve. 

It taught me an important lesson that I have since seen in many of the great leaders I have studied:

Leaders don’t take things personally; they seek the truth because all improvement starts with it.  

While no leader is a perfect communicator, there are phrases the best leaders say consistently to their team members that make them more effective.   

1. “I’m not going to be perfect, and I don’t expect you to be either.”

It’s easy for professionals to look up to someone in a leadership position and fool themselves into believing they are perfect. For a leader to put the truth on the table and say, “I’m not going to be perfect, and I don’t expect you to be either,” creates a foundation of empathy and forgiveness. It expresses to your people that you are human and you know that they are human. Together you are allowed to make mistakes.

When those mistakes happen, we will admit the mistake, learn from it, and then work to not make the same ones in the future. As I wrote in Building the Best, “Failure is not final, failure is feedback.”

2. “Thank you.”

Saying “thank you” is simple, and it must be done often because it means a lot to your team. Those two little words are magical; people desperately want to be acknowledged for the work they do.  

Don’t just take my words for it. A recent study by US psychologists in the journal Psychological Science provides clinical proof of what many of us already knew: Saying “thank you” can positively transform your relationship with others. 

3. “What Have You Done Today to Help Yourself Tomorrow?”

The best leaders are obsessed with helping others reach their potential. Even with this obsession, they know they can’t do it all for their team. Each person has to make the daily decisions and self-disciplined choices to get a little better today than they were yesterday.  

The best leaders are obsessed with helping others reach their potential

By using a phrase like, “what have you done today to help yourself tomorrow,” challenges your team to not only think but act differently. I share a great story on the topic of a grasshopper and the ant in a video on LinkedIn that’s worth your time. Maybe you will share the story with your team when you ask them the question.

4. “Tell Me More.”

One way a leader separates themselves from being a manager is the mindset they take to coaching others. A coach, by definition, is one who trains and instructs. Coaching comes from the word “carriage,” meaning to take someone from point A to point B.  

In our Coaching for Excellence workshops, I teach leaders to leverage questions and statements to help their team solve their own problems. A simple statement like “tell me more” is a fantastic coaching technique to allow others to get their entire point across before a leader swoops in to solve it for them.  

Leaders withhold answers as long as possible to give people the space to solve their own problems first.  

Reject your instincts to interject your insight and opinions by using “tell me more” daily. Often people will answer their own questions without you having to be the hero. 

5. “What can I do to help you?”

There are many forms of leadership, but the concept of servant leadership has emerged as an effective leadership style. The concept behind servant leadership is to flip the traditional hierarchical management model on its head. Instead of your team working for you, you work for them.  

Gary Vaynerchuck shared this LinkedIn post recently that describes it perfectly, “Do for them, not what can they do for you! Good workers come from great bosses.”

6. “What are your personal goals?”

Work and careers have changed dramatically in the last 30 years. It was typical for someone to stay with one company for 30+ years, which is now an anomaly. Professionals have embraced the idea of movement and side hustles to achieve their professional goals. 

While most managers put their heads in the sand or reject this reality, the best leaders do the opposite. They embrace this shift and participate in helping their people achieve their personal goals.  

One of the most powerful questions any leader can ask their team is, “what are your personal goals?” If you want to take it a step further, at the beginning of every year, ask each team member, “What are your goals for this year?” this will help you align your activities and coaching to ensure they achieve them.  

Coaching for Excellence: The development of your coaching skills will make a tremendous difference in helping you lead your best in 2021. Join me for the next Coaching for Excellence Workshop. Sign up and get “8 Questions to Leverage to Be a Better Coach” for free today! https://bit.ly/3goZLv2

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About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

The Simple Way Leaders Get Feedback at the End of the Year

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Awareness, or more to the point, a lack of self-awareness, is a primary issue any Executive Coach focuses on to help a leader get better. When a person holds a position of power and authority without clear, candid information about how their actions or behaviors affect their teams, it’s a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, this describes too many leaders.

In our preliminary research, most leaders believe they are self-aware. In actuality, only between 30%- 40% have proven they possess this skill. Moreover, many of the executives and managers we have studied over the last seven years have never even asked their team members for feedback about how they are leading. Their reasons varied from being overly confident, apathetic, or scared to hear the truth.

While asking your team for feedback can be a scary endeavor, research suggests those on the path to self-awareness are more confident, make better decisions, build better relationships, and communicate more effectively.  

Nadeem Saeed backed this up by saying, “Self-Awareness is the first chapter in the book of leadership.”

Why We Avoid The Truth

Whether it be our finances, the quality of our relationships, or the way we are currently leading, it’s just more comfortable to avoid the truth than confront it. Let’s face it, avoidance and denial have their short-term benefits — they feel better. Self-preservation and protection from real emotion or pain can disguise itself as the best path. But, things have a way of catching up to you. They say the truth will set you free, but they never said anything about it being painless. 

Leaders who avoid the truth move further away from being in a position of strength. 

The vast majority of leaders will only go to the point in which it gets uncomfortable, then they stop. However, growth and development are right around the corner when we find out the truth, and we get a little uncomfortable. Daniel Chidiac said some wise words, “Being self-aware is not the absence of mistakes, but the ability to learn and correct them.”

How to Get Unbiased Feedback 

As I wrote in Building the Best, a leader’s most important job is to elevate others.  It is nearly impossible to do this if you don’t know how your skills or behaviors impact other people. 

Thanks to Gallup’s Strength’s Finder, there is a strong trend for professionals to lean into their strengths and forget about their weaknesses. While this may be true when speaking of technical skills, it’s quite the opposite when it comes to leadership skills. A leader must discover and improve deficient skills because they negatively impact other people and your ability to lead them. 

Great leaders lean into their weaknesses in order to elevate others

To summarize so far, self-awareness is critical, and it will probably hurt. If you’re ready to take the plunge, here’s how you can begin to get feedback: 

Simply put, you ask for it. Our team leverages SkillsLoft to help leaders understand their current leadership style and their strengths and weaknesses. This tool aids in getting candid feedback by keeping responses anonymous. But not every company invests in a 360° feedback tool and there are always gaps in them as well. Instead of waiting on a company leadership development program, you can use this one bold question Casey Graham, Gravy’s CEO leverages to get unbiased feedback

“What’s the absolute worst part of working directly with me?”

What’s so powerful about this, Graham sets the standard that his organization’s growth is directly tied to the growth rate of every leader within it. This question not only takes courage to send, but it shows your team and that you are in growth mode and models the behaviors you want to see from them.  

What To Do After You Receive Feedback

There is a huge caveat to asking for feedback. If you want to get honest, candid feedback, you must be willing to do something about it. If someone gives you feedback, and nothing comes of it, they won’t be as willing, to be honest with you again. The same can be said for your attitude when receiving some harsh criticism. After someone on your team or organization has given you feedback, follow these three steps: 

  1. Thank Them – Thank them for taking the time and energy to share their insight, whether you agree with it or not. Say something like, “Thank you for taking the time to provide this to me. I am in growth mode as a leader, and I’m going to take some time to consider your feedback and what I am going to do to improve.” 
  2. Act Differently Because of It – Once you determine if the feedback is accurate, formulate a plan for how you will act differently because of it. This may require training, coaching, or just good old fashion behavior change.
  3. Create a Feedback Loop – There is nothing easy about changing behavior. Find a mechanism or cadence to create a feedback loop. Ask your team at least for feedback at least once a year.

Closing

Personal and leadership growth starts with self-awareness. This visibility for where you are today allows you to get better tomorrow. Asking for, listening to, and accepting feedback as a gift is the best way to make this happen.  

It will always be easier to avoid or ignore the truth. You decide if you want things to be easy or if you want to elevate those around you. If you’re committed to your development and the development of those you lead, make it a priority to get feedback from them.

Coaching For Excellence. Join John for a live virtual workshop on December 22nd from 12 PM – 1 PM EST. Limited spots are available! Now is the time to develop your coaching skills. Big Bonus: By registering today you will also get the 2021 Leadership Plan!

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About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

How to Lose the Respect of Your Team in One Simple Step

Most leaders put in the effort to earn respect, while others naively rely on their title to provide it. Regardless of the way it is gained, without respect, you can’t lead. At best, you can manage others but forget the idea of getting the best out of a team. This is why the second leadership principle in Building the Best is: Without strong relationships, you can’t lead.  

Even the thought of losing the respect of someone or something a leader cares about can cause a pit in their stomach to form.  Research suggests that overall happiness in life is more related to how much you are respected and admired by those around you, not to the status that comes from the amount of money you make or have.

Commanding and Demanding Respect Isn’t The Answer.

While the position a leader is in often comes with built-in respect, it can’t and won’t sustain respect for an extended period. Respect is earned, and it’s earned through a lot of hard work and correct decision making. As Paulo Coelho said, “Respect is for those who deserve it, not for those who demand it.”

Once respect is lost, gaining it back is one of the hardest things a leader can do. Leaders lose the respect of their people for all different kinds of reasons. Often, it’s lost for a big intentional decision that is glaringly selfish. 

Through my experience working with leaders from all industries in a variety of positions, it’s most common that leaders lose respect not because of one of these big decisions, but because of a collection of subtle choices, often without awareness of their mistakes.  

Here are a few common examples:

  • Not standing up to someone or something that’s wrong
  • Treating team members differently based on personal relationships
  • Refusal to confront the bully on the team
  • Interrupting others while they are speaking
  • Physically being in a meeting but not being mentally present
  • Hearing but not actively listening to team members
  • Not keeping their word when they say they will do something

If you have been in a position of leadership for any length of time, you know your people are watching your every move and listening to the words that come out of your mouth. 

Take a good look at your actions. Are you guilty of any of these? We all make mistakes, but respect is lost when habits form, and people aren’t self-aware enough to recognize their pattern of behavior.  

Here’s how the best leaders cultivate a culture of respect on their team and you can too: 

Look beyond commonalities

It sounds almost foolish for me to have to write this given our current environment, but each person on a team is equal. They might not play the same role or contribute to the overall success of a team in the same way, but the moment team members start being treated differently is the moment your trust begins to erode.   

Your human nature will have you gravitating toward people who act like you, look like you, or that you get along with personally. While there is nothing wrong with this by itself, leaders tend to give special treatment, attention, and let mistakes slide for these people. All leaders are challenged to overcome different biases in order to have better respect-filled relationships across their team.  

If you want more respect in your culture, look beyond commonalities. Be consistent with the opportunities available and the accountability leveraged with each member of the team.  

Do what’s right, always

There are many critical questions leaders should not only ask themselves in their careers and have an answer for. One of the crucial questions you must ask yourself and be able to clearly answer is: Who do I want to be as a leader?  

It’s a deep question, but if you don’t have an answer for it, there is a good chance you don’t have boundaries of your character. This might not be a problem when everything is going well, but it becomes a problem when tough situations arise or decisions have to be made that are on the border of right and wrong.  

Questionable decisions start small. As an example, rarely does a criminal’s first offense start with robbing a bank. It starts small indiscretions and escalates over time. 

Since your people are watching, doing what is right under pressure will always be something that builds respect. Knowing who you want to become as a leader will help guide these tough decisions and do what’s right. I shared some ideas about making positive daily deposits to help you in a recent episode of the Follow My Lead Podcast.

Share the truth, even if it hurts

Many leaders struggle to share hard truths with their people out of fear of the reaction or the uncomfortable nature of the conversation. Regardless of the reason, sharing the truth is a powerful way to earn respect.

Sharing hard truths, while difficult, shows your people you care about the team and them enough to help them get better in the future. As I tell people in our virtual leadership workshops, if you have information that can help someone else improve and you don’t share it, you are only hurting them. 

The best part of getting into the habit of sharing the truth is your team will appreciate your courage and willingness to share it. The more you do it, the easier it becomes until it’s just part of your culture. 

Empower people to make decisions

As a leader, you are ultimately responsible for everything your team does. However, if you make all the decisions, your people won’t reach their full potential, and won’t achieve the level of success you desire.

Empowering your people to make decisions is a fast track to creating a culture of respect. Check out this story of a manager from Chick-fil-A, empowering her people to make decisions.

Closing

Remember, respect is earned and without it, you can’t lead. Heade this warning: it can also be eroded in an instant. Don’t take it for granted. 

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About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company making virtual training easy and effective. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Successand host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. He is currently scheduling virtual workshops an keynotes. Learn more about the talks. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

How the Best Leaders Use Brutal Facts To Their Advantage

Fact and fake confusion

Every leader should have a go-to list of what he or she considers to be steadfast rules of successful leadership. Criteria like, “set clear goals,” or “coach for growth” are used consistently; and, while our tried and true mantras are certainly important to uphold, leaders must remember to adjust and add to these guidelines.  

The current world of uncertainty requires leaders to commit to “defining reality” for their people. Napoleon famously said, ” The role of a leader is to define reality and give hope.”

Like many words today, the term reality has been hijacked by the media; primarily for reality tv shows that are supposed to provide a picture of what’s real (and more often than not are overproduced parodies with very little truth portrayed). Forget what you know about reality as it relates to television and the media; reality is defined as the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or imaginary state.  

If you are going to be a leader who defines reality, it’s time to take off the rose-colored glasses and paint an accurate picture of where your company or team is today, in light of the coronavirus.  

Most leaders don’t tell the truth 

Defining reality and telling the truth to a team is clearly the right thing to do; but, research indicates that most managers don’t do it. A recent study found that only 17% of employees report that their leaders consistently state the truth. This means that a whopping 83% of leaders aren’t doing a good job at defining reality.  

The reasons for sheltering their teams from the truth isn’t complicated. Leaders are concerned with the following: 

  1. Causing stress and worry – Leaders don’t want to create undue worry and stress on their teams since they don’t know what the future holds.
  2. Protecting themselves – By admitting the situation might not be good, it puts leaders in a vulnerable position to admit they might have made some mistakes. This could make team members lose confidence in their leader.

While these reasons make sense on the surface, there is a good chance that if leaders aren’t willing to be transparent about their current reality, the news isn’t good. However, the best leaders use their current state and situation to their advantage. Here’s how they do it and you can too:

Tap into courage

Delivering the news to a team that the current situation or forecast isn’t good isn’t an easy task. Which is why most leaders avoid it. As I tell my team and clients, “If leadership were easy, everyone would do it.”

Telling the truth and ultimately scaring or disappointing an audience of people who rely on you requires a leader to tap into his or her courage. C.S. Lewis spoke the truth about courage saying, “courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at its testing point.” We all can make courageous decisions by tapping into a place deep in our hearts that allows us to be scared and move forward in spite of that fear. Like forming a habit, the more courageous decisions you make, the easier it is to be courageous. 

If you struggle with courage, start small by identifying the next step or action you need to take. Instead of scheduling an all hands-on meeting tomorrow morning, call one or two people on the team that you are close with, and tell them first. 

Communicate the brutal facts

Once you tap into your courage muscle, it’s time to communicate the brutal facts. I intentionally use the facts and not feelings because facts are stubborn things. Take the time to gather as much data and information as you can, and put together a set of facts that matter to you and your team.  

In the current environment, this could be every day. In uncertain times, you can’t communicate enough, even if the update is “there is no update.” Casey Crawford, one of the leaders I wrote about in Building the Best, is holding optional, daily, employee-wide live video calls at the end of every day to communicate the facts and answer questions from his people. While no leader is perfect, it’s a great model for any leader to follow.   

Share hope and faith

I have written a lot about hope over the last few weeks because it’s not only essential to getting our country through the Coronavirus but as a leader, you must keep your team looking forward. Hope is an optimistic state of mind that is based on positive outcomes. When hope is at the center of your own mind and your team’s mind, it leads to positive actions. 

As Bob Caslen said, “when hope is strong, people do not get discouraged.”

Turn reality into actions and opportunities

By communicating the facts about your current situation and sharing hope in the future, you provide the platform for things to get better. The only way things are going to get better is by having your team to help make it happen. 

When an entire team takes full advantage of their experience, expertise, creativity, and work ethic, good things tend to happen. Opportunities are uncovered, action items are created, and it gives them a fighting chance to make their current reality better one day at a time.   

Currently, in the United States families are quarantining in the face of dramatic financial uncertainty. Companies like Ford, Tesla, Apple and many others are pivoting to create necessary medical equipment. While these actions won’t stop the virus tomorrow, they are getting the country and world one step closer to beating this virus.  

Closing

If you find yourself in a position of leadership, whether that be at work or at home, now is the time to make your current reality an advantage. You are right where you are supposed to be, so lead like it.  

Stay safe and healthy but don’t stop leading!

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About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company making victual training easy and effective. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Successand host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.