Do you work for a boss who has been defined as a “driver?” You know, he or she “drives performance” and “drives results.” Maybe even “drives people?” (Maybe into the ground, even.) Here’s a refreshing view from Marcel Schwantes, Principal and founder, Leadership From the Core, writing for Inc.
In this social economy, where the currencies of trust and transparency are exchanged, driving no longer holds a favorable place in the eyes of loyal and committed workers. We drive cattle, cars, and trucks — pushing and steering them where we want them to go — because they have no voice and we’re in charge.
Yet for so many organizations, this is the prevailing leadership style, stifling the work atmosphere and causing unnecessary fear and stress among people. But the reality is, a “driven” leader is the complete opposite of what a true leader is or does.
If you want your employees to respect you and give you exceptional performance, stop driving. Your next move is to adopt these four behaviors of the best leaders.
1. Surrender control.
If you want to foster high trust, high risk-taking, and high creativity, consider hopping off the ivory tower of “command and control” for the higher road of sharing your power and releasing your control over people. Because when you do, you actually gain real power; your team will have your back, unleash discretionary effort, and do amazing work.
2. Push authority down.
When employees are given the opportunity to exercise ownership over their work, and use their brains to make decisions on their own, their competency and confidence increase. In turn, leaders empower their people to become leaders themselves. In highly effective organizations, there are leaders at every level, not just at the top. The solution is always to push authority down so you’re creating a leader-leader culture, not a leader-follower culture.
3. Actively listen to others, even those under your line of sight.
Top-down leaders driven by hubris have a hard time detaching from their own inner voices to consider other voices, because they think they’re always right. Great leaders are present and in the moment. They don’t need to talk over others to get their point across. To quote former Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen CEO Cheryl Bachelder:
The biggest distinction of a leader who serves others versus themselves is the ability to listen. When you listen, you hear peoples’ objections, anxieties, and fears — and you also hear the solutions.
4. Apply the leadership strength of vulnerability.
Some might say vulnerability is too touchy-feely and inappropriate for business. Others may say they’re just not wired for it — it’s not in their personality makeup. Neither is true. Vulnerability is about trust — the backbone of successful leadership. Employees and leaders who trust one another learn to be comfortable being open to one another around their failures, weaknesses, even fears. Vulnerability-based trust is predicated on the simple–and practical idea — that people who aren’t afraid to admit the truth are not going to engage in the kind of political drama that sucks away everyone’s time and energy and, more important, gets in the way of accomplishing goals and results.