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  • Writer's picturewabbate

How to Effectively Lead and Be Led at Work

Developing insight in a meaningful way

Photo by Jehyun Sung on Unsplash

Can you imagine what your life would be like if you did not have eyesight, or were vision impaired? Count yourself blessed if you have good eyesight, but what about the other type of sight, insight?

While most of you can see, without insight you can be more blind in some areas than someone who can’t see with their eyes.

The importance of Insight

As a professional coach, I have worked with many executives to help them “see” what they are missing. It’s not uncommon for practically everyone to be blind to certain things in life.

For many years I was blind to the effect I had on other people. When you are in a position of power it is easy to miss the weight of the words you speak. Because many bosses tend to be more direct and use fewer words and compliments, the employee can take many things they say differently than the way the boss means them.

Learn the Power in Your Words

Because I lacked some self-awareness and insight when I was a young manager, I had no idea something I’d say could hit an employee so hard. For example, when I told an employee “This is good and you have it in you to do more,” which to me meant “this work was good and I see you growing in your ability to do more,“ yet he heard, “it’s okay, but you could do a better job.”

Then there was the time I told someone “this will do,” and meant it sincerely, while the employee heard “this is merely okay, surely you can do better.” He was seeking even a small amount of approval for the great deal of work he put into the project, but I was too busy to notice at the time.

Every leader can improve their abilities by becoming more aware of the employee’s needs and developing empathy and compassion. This in no way means you become a pushover, however. It simply means you increase your level of awareness and understanding.

By the way, I am in no way alone in this regard, as I have coached many leaders who were completely unaware of the impact their words had on others.

It’s Lonely at the Top

The larger the organization the greater the chance some leaders never come to personally know or be known by many employees. Add to the fact that, depending on their position, many high-level leaders purposely do not socialize with subordinates for a variety of reasons which adds to this disconnect. As the saying goes, it’s lonely at the top. Too true.

This social distancing can keep key leaders in the dark. While I always saw myself as an affable sort of fellow, one day I had a rude awakening.

My wife and I started taking her best friends’ son to church with us. I mentioned to him how it seemed some people were a bit uneasy around me. He looked me squarely in the eyes and said, “Bill, it’s because you’re like their bosses’ boss…” I was stunned! At the time I was running a company with about 700 employees yet had no idea I was coming across like that in a social setting! I later found part of the issue was people knew the company and my position, which made them see me differently. Yet I still had some behaviors to work on to become the affable person I thought I was. It continues to amaze me how people view others so differently just because of their position. As was told to me many years ago, no one is better than anyone else, after all, they put their pants on one leg at a time too. And yet…

How do You Deal with Someone in Power?

Admittedly, more people than not are on the receiving end of a high-level boss. How can one deal with them? Gaining some insight on the part of the employee will certainly help.

The first thing is to demystify them. See them as a human being, a “person,” who has the same thoughts, needs, and fears as you and your colleagues. They really do put on their pants one leg at a time like you. Regardless of the level of a person in a large organization, you would be surprised if you could read their mind and learn who they really are inside. They are people too and there is no need to fear them.

Sure, there can be some bad apples in any organization, and you always have the option to leave the company if you believe nothing will ever change. As I often say, you can’t change another person, but you can change, and through your change they may change. It all starts with you, your actions and behaviors.

When you change, everyone in your world changes.

Respect and Attitude Reign Supreme

What is the best way to get along with leaders and others in the workplace? Earn their respect. The more you earn the respect of others, the more you will be recognized and the more respect you will receive in return. Work to earn the respect of those in higher, equal, and lower-level positions. When you are respected in an organization you stand apart from most people in a good way. You gain numerous benefits by earning respect. From being offered promotions, to gaining freedom to do more of the work you enjoy, to being paid better and receiving more perks, to being more secure in the company should a downturn come along.

How can you earn this respect? Simply by doing a little more than asked of you. By going the extra mile when it’s appropriate. By being punctual and respecting company values. By not being afraid to speak up in a respectful manner.

Whatever you do, don’t fall into the victim trap. If you see yourself as a victim, you may as well leave the company. To learn more about this topic, read David Emerald’s book, The Power of Ted (The Empowerment Dynamic.) I believe it should be required reading for every employee, regardless of their position.

Your attitude will likely have the greatest effect of all. Don’t you love being around someone with a good attitude, who has confidence without cockiness, who is comfortable to be with? That can be you if you choose it to be.

Become the Best

You have the opportunity before you to become the best employee in the company, regardless of your position. Here are a few tips to become your best:

  1. Support those you work for, work with, and who work for you.

  2. Appreciate those you work with and you will appreciate in value to them.

  3. Appreciate the company you work for and you will appreciate in value to the company.

  4. Earn respect.

  5. Develop a great attitude.

  6. Be thankful.

Can it be that simple? Yes, it can!

The wonderful thing about working is you can become who you want to become. It’s up to you to do the work. Take the risk. What do you have to lose?

And while you’re at it, why not send a copy of this article to your boss and everyone else you work with? They will most likely thank you for taking the initiative to do so!

Bill Abbate Leadership Writer in ILLUMINATION.

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