The textbook definition of “leader” is the person who commands a group or organization. Does this describe you at work? In a community group? At school? Among your peers?
A leader inspires, motivates, and encourages. Ideally, a leader models behavior that others should follow. Realistically, leaders are human and make mistakes. A leader may make a choice that, if others do the same, is not best for the greater good of the group/organization. There are countless examples of unhealthy leadership models in government and corporations alike. Turn on the local or national news tonight and you’re bound to see a handful of fallen leaders making headlines.
While we will all make mistakes in our career, it’s important to intentionally take steps to model healthy behavior for ourselves and for the good of those who follow us. If we don’t do this, we’ll burn out and grow stagnant in our success. Our followers will do the same. There are easy-to-implement steps we can take to ensure we are great leaders and are instilling healthy habits in our followers.
Here are five ways to model healthy leadership in your career:
Make work/life balance a priority. If you are regularly going home only to shower and sleep a few hours before returning to work, you don’t have a healthy work/life balance. Similarly, if you haven’t taken a vacation in years, you don’t have a healthy work/life balance. If your followers see you burning the candle at both ends year-after-year, you are setting a precedent - this is how you lead and what you expect from other leaders in your group. There is a lot of research out there about why taking time off is good for your brain and productivity, so make sure you are balancing your time.
Surround yourself with wise counsel. Everyone needs advice. Even Presidents and Kings have cabinets and courts to advise them in many different situations. It doesn’t matter how high up the corporate ladder you climb, seeking the opinion of a trusted friend, mentor, or colleague will result in success. This success will either be in your decision making, in your relationship building, or both. Either way, it’s a win-win. There is never a downside to seeking wise counsel.
Collaborate, don’t divide. One of your goals as a leader should be to raise up people who can become leaders, too. This multiplies your team’s time and manpower, resulting in increased productivity and overall success. It also lends well to the philosophy that, “two heads are better than one” when considering your options and making the most informed decisions.
Actively listen. One way you can earn the respect of your followers is to actively listen to what they have to say. If they want to offer feedback on your performance, listen intently, then consider the how and when this feedback applies. If they want to propose a new or different way of doing something, don’t brush them off. Not only will you earn respect, you might be pleasantly surprised by their amazing ideas! Learn more about how to actively listen here.
Practice humility. No one likes to work for a leader who is arrogant. Balance your strengths and skills with the recognition that you can always improve. Practicing the previous four models of healthy leadership will naturally instill humility, as you realize that there are many people who can help and provide assistance to reach goals better than you could on your own. It’s not about you - it’s about the team and the overall good of your team and the projects you tackle.
What else would you add to this list? How do you model healthy leadership in your workplace?