In a typical day we each have dozens of interactions — with colleagues, with family, with bosses, with friends. As leaders, either in our workplaces, our communities, or in our families, our time is in high demand; there are countless people looking to us to help, to influence, to guide. As new interactions present themselves throughout a busy day, it’s tempting to lapse into lazy communicating: rushing to a judgment call, jumping in with a “quick-fix” before we’ve got all the facts, or worse, not engaging at all with a flippant “not now.” We can and must do better.
People are watching what we do and how we do it.
It’s not just that we need to be more alert and better at listening. Nor is it just that we need to embrace each interaction as an opportunity to connect with others in a helpful way. It’s that we must remember: people are watching what we do and how we do it. The people we seek to influence are acutely aware of our actions. They notice dismissiveness, lazy thinking, and lack of integrity. They also notice careful listening, offers of help, consensus building, and trustworthy behavior. One of the biggest challenges leaders have today is that while employees are usually tuned in to their bosses’ moods, the opposite is not sufficiently the case. Be the exception. Honor others with your attention and they will honor you with their commitment, hard work, and trust. Here are four ways to influence people with honor every day — and they are each essential to leadership that works.
Remember the Power of Choice.
When we think of each situation as an opportunity to carefully choose to contribute in the most helpful way, we empower ourselves. Remember this mantra: You have the power to choose your response to any, and to every, situation. What will you do to affect the best outcome, not just for today, but for next time? If we choose a coercive tactic i.e. “do this or else” it may work today but it’s likely to leave a reservoir of ill-will in its wake that will ultimately undermine our authority. Try to choose a more integrated approach. Engage with people in a way that is tough-minded on the standards but respectful and tender-hearted with the people. Folks will take notice.
Lead with Integrity.
Do what you say you’re going to do. And do it well. How can people trust a leader who says one thing but does another? They can’t. And they won’t. On your leadership journey remember that you’re either going to become known as someone who does what they say they’re going to do or someone who does not. When you commit to “walking the talk” it inspires trust and commitment from the people you seek to lead.
Just as employees are tuned in to what we do as leaders, so are they to what we say. Don’t forget that your words in any conversation may be repeated many times over throughout the organization. Be mindful of each and every sentence. There must be quality alignment between your words and your actions. Remain exquisitely alert to the energy of the other person in the conversation. Double check to make sure you were clear. Do not assume! Your message will ultimately need to be understood through several degrees of separation. When we honor all the voices that touch the issue — even those who are not present in a particular interaction, we communicate much more effectively. And our messaging will more likely withstand being whispered down the lane.
Do what you say you’re going to do.
Swiftly Respond to Mistakes.
As we’re called to make decisions in every area of our life, inevitably we will make mistakes. Of course! It’s OK to make a mistake. But it’s integral to our leadership that we acknowledge and address errors in a timely, genuine, and integrity laden way. Again, people are watching. Do not allow a mistake to entangle you in the torpor of inaction. Own up. Deal with mistakes swiftly, truthfully, and thoughtfully. And then move on. This demonstrates that you are transparent, trustworthy, and highly competent — and that you do not ever throw people under the bus. Wouldn’t you like to be led by somebody who meets those criteria?
When you establish a pattern of honoring people through your actions, word gets out. Your positive influence spreads. And since you have acted thoughtfully and with integrity, when you speak, people will listen. Make the choice to start now.
This post originally appeared on LinkedIn here.