What are your professional goals for 2016? Earning a promotion, scaling-up your company, recruiting the best talent, or improving team performance? Your success will be determined by your ability to build relationships, shape culture and drive breakthrough results, as well as the ability to enhance your reputation as a great leader that attracts and retains top talent.
Why is reputation important to leaders?
As a personal brand strategist, my most challenging rebranding and reputation repair projects are senior executives who have suffered traumatic reputation damage due to negative media or social media attacks. We live in a world where everyone is a free agent according to the article Fortune’s World’s Greatest Leaders: 50 intrepid guides for a messy world. It takes a different way of leading to survive this fast paced world, as well as prevent the revolving door of employees leaving, disengagement, burnout, or even worse, an online negative reputation attack led by unhappy employees.
For example, Indeed.com requires an individual to review past employers before applying for a position. Have you read any of these reviews? People do not hold back! Think about it…would you go to a restaurant if you read bad reviews on Yelp.com about the lack of service or how bad customers are treated? Probably not! The same goes for leaders. You are not going to recruit or retain top talent, as well as survive if people hear or read negative things about your leadership, how employees are treated, or if the work environment is not friendly.
As a personal branding expert, I believe a leader’s reputation is directly linked to their interpersonal skills. I asked my client, Chalmers Brothers, who is an expert in emotional intelligence and leadership development, what has been his experience working with Fortune 500 and tech senior executives when it comes to interpersonal skills? As co-author of Language and the Pursuit of Leadership Excellence: How Extraordinary Leaders Build Relationships, Shape Culture and Drive Breakthrough Results, Chalmers found most leaders are fired, replaced, or removed not because they lack technical expertise or know-how, but due to the lack of effective interpersonal skills.
5 Things a Leader Can Do to Improve Their Reputation
All leaders have their own unique style, habits, and routines of how they lead, communicate, engage with others, and build relationships… for better or worse. But the lack of effective interpersonal skills often prevents leaders from achieving their professional and personal goals, and can damage their reputation permanently.
From his upcoming SOAR Executive Retreat in March, Chalmers offers five essential things individuals can do today to improve their leadership effectiveness, reputation, and drive results:
Build Healthy Relationships. Resist the temptation to fall for “The Grand Illusion” that you are the leader and in control. This leads to developing unhealthy, dysfunctional, unproductive working relationships. Real power, energy, effectiveness is achieved when you are able to build and maintain mutually beneficial relationships both inside and outside the organization.
Grow Emotionally. Become as emotionally intelligent as you are intellectually intelligent. Notice missing conversations in your life and learn how to increase the quality of critical conversations with the most important people in your professional and personal lives. Mood and emotions of people dramatically impact organizational performance.
Agree to Disagree. Do you have to be right all the time? Create a space for healthy, respectful disagreement that leads to a team situation which encourages a full commitment to action. Most of us will not volunteer to be with, work with, or associate with people who constantly make us wrong. Being right all the time drives people away from the organization and prevents successful execution.
Execute. Organizations are networks of commitments (requests, offers, and promises) to take action. As a leader, notice whether or not you’re getting valid response when making a request of another, as well as when you are (or aren’t) providing a valid response to someone else’s request of you. Learn the “nuts and bolts” of execution and dramatically improve how people collaborate and work together. Your leadership purposefully shapes and sustains a culture of accountability.
Keep Learning. Be willing to say, “I don’t know”. This vulnerability is really a strength that produces opening for learning opportunities where they did not previously exist. This expands your ability to “look at things” in multiple ways, which greatly increases your horizon of possibilities. Declare yourself a beginner in domains in which you need to grow. Whether it is emotional intelligence, leadership techniques, or any other skills needed to succeed, a leader striving to learn is perceived not as an individual with a weakness or liability, but wisdom and a position of strength. Continuous learning fosters an environment of innovation and adaptability, as well as helps you stay relevant as a leader.
About Andria Younger
Andria Younger is a personal brand strategist and consultant in New York City and ranked in LinkedIn’s Top 25 for personal branding. Follow Andria on Twitter or check out Andria’s personal branding blog at andriayounger.com.