What gives leaders authority? What makes people want to follow leaders?
Certainly it’s not their title. Plenty of leaders with lofty titles fail to gain the respect from others that makes them effective leaders. Neither is it the way they dress, the car they drive, or the size of their office. That’s all show, not substance.
Leaders gain authority from their authenticity and integrity. To arrive at authenticity leaders need to know why they lead, that is, what they stand for. Exceptional leaders thoroughly understand the Why of what they do and rarely, if ever, stray from their stated beliefs. That’s integrity.
Underlying everyone’s reason for living is their personal search for meaning. Holocaust survivor and prominent neurologist and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl credited his survival during his horrifying ordeal to his search for meaning. It’s described in his well-known book, Man’s Search for Meaning.
New York University professor of management Batia Wiesenfeld claims that finding the Why of what you do gives your life meaning. He says that “people who are thinking in terms of meaning are more cognitively flexible and adapt better.”
Only by thoroughly understanding the core beliefs that make them who they are can your leaders begin to align their beliefs with the way you intend to lead your organization. Then and only then can they come off to their direct reports as authentic and effective leaders. When employees see leaders who clearly and consistently act according to their own moral compass do they earn and gain alignment, clarity, trust, and respect.
For this reason, we incorporate a Leadership Credo into every one of our CoachQuest Leader-as-coach workshops. It’s an exercise that compels your leaders to think, discover, understand, express, share, and commit to the why of who they are and how they lead.
Here are the four steps we use to help leaders create their Leadership Credos.
You can and should urge your leaders to craft their Leadership Credos, but the better way, of course, is to enroll them in a CoachQuest Leader-as-coach workshop customized to suit your organization’s needs. Let’s talk about doing that as you as you can.
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