You might think you’re open, transparent, and easy to understand. To your people, though, you might be a total enigma. They might be confused about who you are, not understand what you stand for, and be frustrated they can’t predict your behavior. All these dynamics lead to workplace frustration and work inefficiency. At their worst, they negatively impact morale and eventually lead people to seek employment elsewhere.
Why are they so confused?
I’ve lived with myself for forty years. I’m with myself 24/7. I’m a pretty known quantity – to me.
My people have known me for a much shorter period of time. They only interact with me a few hours a day (at best). Our conversations are usually confined to tasks, deliverables, and some coaching.
They want to know me better because I have an impact on their lives. I affect their work, their compensation, and ultimately their careers. There’s some element of fear (however small) in that dynamic because when people don’t have complete control over a situation, they get uneasy. They really want to know me better as a person to reduce this uncertainty and discomfort.
How can they get to know you?
This isn’t about hanging out and being best buddies over a beer. Helping them get to know you is about being transparent with your beliefs and standards. It’s about letting them know who you really are as a person. It boils down to having a clear leadership philosophy.
Before you run off and throw together a bunch of buzzwords and call it a philosophy, I encourage you to read this post on how you can articulate your PERSONAL leadership philosophy in a simple, concise way. Once you’ve defined that philosophy (which needs to be uniquely yours) you’re in a position to share those beliefs with your team members.
How to keep uncertainty to a minimum
Once they know who you are and what your leadership philosophy is, you need to live it every day. Predictability is key. If you articulate a philosophy, they’ll be watching for indicators of whether you lead in a manner that is consistent with it or not. Even the slightest departure in your actions from what your philosophy indicates will give them pause. Consistency and predictability are crucial aspects of getting your team to focus more on the work and less on “what’s the boss gonna do today?”.
To help them get comfortable that you’re being consistent, try pointing out instances when you’re taking action based on your philosophy. Help them see how your actions are in harmony with the things you already told them were important. When you do this, two things happen: first, they get more comfortable believing your philosophy isn’t just an empty set of platitudes and second they understand there is logic and reason behind your actions. Those two dynamics go a long way toward building trust between you and your associates.
The Bottom Line
The sooner you commit your leadership philosophy to paper, the better off you are. Be sure it is personal, authentic, and free of jargon or buzzwords. Share it with your team. Live it every day. Help them see you’re really not that complex or unpredictable. Morale, productivity, and trust will all increase as a result.