Fond Memories: 3 Ways to Be Remembered as a Leader

Guest post from Chris Dyer:
Setting
the tone for those with whom you work is a must for executives in the here and
now. You establish yourself as the organizational authority. You suggest what
type of behavior is acceptable. And you demonstrate the work ethic that will
push your company to reach its goals. But on a personal level, the tone you set
as leader will, in the end, determine your legacy. What will that be, and how
can you influence it?
You
could build your legacy on the fly, showing through day-to-day decisions and
actions how you guided your working team. Or you can give the matter some thought
and attempt to live up to your own vision for your tenure at the helm. This
approach will let you address all the nuances involved in the employee-boss
relationship—the things that add color to the technical side of your job
description.
Your
impact as leader spills over into the daily lives of your team. Do you handle
the interpersonal details as well as you do policy nuts and bolts? Do you
balance an insistence on accountability and productivity with your response to
the human condition?
We
all have personal styles that drive our leadership images. Some take the
tough-guy or tough-gal road, laying down the law with firm boundaries and
serious consequences for crossing them. Other people just want to be liked and
choose to lose some control in accommodating individual tastes. Both extremes
will likely create as many critics as fans of your overall job as leader.
To
build a legacy that leaves you well respected by the majority of those with
whom you work, take some time to compose your working obituary. How do you want
to be remembered? Most of us want to be seen as approachable, objective
decision makers who aren’t afraid to pitch in when the going gets rough. Even
people who don’t agree with everything a boss does can respect one who is open,
fair, and engaged.
To
your team, your work in these areas is every bit as important as how you manage
your company’s brand and market share. Take a few minutes to evaluate where you
are now and how you can improve. Here are three ways to help cement your legacy
as a great leader.
Listen
Well
Effective
communication is vital at every level of company function. So, your role is to
both model and promote good listening, the most important half of the equation.
First, set yourself and others up for success by removing barriers to
meaningful listening, such as
           background noise
           distracting activity
           mental blocks
If
you’re running a meeting, for instance, control the environment to reduce or
eliminate outside noise. Ban multitasking on phones and laptops. Encourage
mental engagement by feeding the brain and body with snacks, humor, or a group
activity.
When
you moderate discussions, help people suspend preconceived notions about what
they are about to hear. An open mind is essential to accepting or forming a
rational response to new information. Show that you are trying to understand
what you heard by repeating a speaker’s words back and asking for confirmation
or clarification.
Model
this openness yourself in one-on-one situations in which you may be predisposed
to an outcome, such as an employee asking for a raise. Don’t jump to
conclusions. Instead of an immediate response, a partial compromise or a
wait-and-see attitude leaves the door open to mutual satisfaction.
To
be remembered as a good listener, practice in casual encounters in the hallway
or elevator. Remarking on something that a person has said before shows that
you were listening then and that you remembered a small detail. Don’t hesitate
to take notes on your chance exchanges with team members, for future reference.
Make
Data-Driven Decisions
When
it comes to employee compensation, promotion, and acknowledgement, no leader wants
to be seen as playing favorites, or condoning other decision makers in doing
so. Set hard and fast rules on pay, job status, and recognition of good
work—and let numbers do the objective work.
Form
a numerical scale for evaluating performance and job fit. This can be based on
key performance indicators that you’ve identified to define success in various
company roles. It can take into account the opinions of co-workers in surveys
or ratings. You can even tie personality traits to numbers that show how they
affect job performance.
Putting
the entire company on the same scale shows that upper management is
fair-minded. Maybe incoming employees all take the same personality test. Maybe
you average the number ratings by multiple managers or peers to determine an
individual’s progress. However you do it, make your method and scale known to
all, so that you can be trusted to use the same criteria for everyone on the
team.
Level
the Playing Field
Using
objective or averaged data is a great way to afford each company employee the
same opportunities to do their best and be remunerated for it. Make sure that
the word gets out! There’s no reason to keep objective, fair treatment a
secret. And demonstrate your commitment to it in every way that you can.
Consider
letting the rest of the company rank your annual performance, the way college
professors ask students to do—and then post the results. Regularly convene
virtual or in-person meetings that are open to employees at any level in every
department. The more everyone knows, the better they can do their jobs. These
are examples of how transparency builds trust and benefits productivity.
Finally,
take part in activities both in and out of your typical role. Most folks won’t
notice your brilliant handling of closed-door meetings, but they will remember
the time you showed up at the janitor’s birthday party. While some might rail
at learning a new software program, they’ll respect you for sitting down to
train with the tech crew alongside everyone else. Want to be remembered as a
great leader? Don’t forget you’re part of the team.
Chris Dyer is the author of The Power of Company Culture: How any business can build a
culture that improves productivity, performance and profits
,
out now published by Kogan
Page, priced $18.00.
The Power of Company Culture
draws on real-life examples to reveal how organisations including Google, 3M,
Zappos, Apple, General Motors and Southwest Airlines have successfully built
their outstanding cultures. Based on exclusive in-depth research, The Power of
Company Culture outlines the practical steps that world-leading organisations
are taking to build and maintain their culture, revealing the ‘seven pillars’
of success.
Chris Dyer is the Founder and CEO of PeopleG2, a background check and
intelligence firm based in California, USA. He is also the host of TalentTalk
on OC Talk Radio and iHeartRadio and speaks at events around the world on
company culture, remote workforces and employee engagement.