A Leader’s Shadow

How big is your shadow and, more importantly, what shape is it? Do you even know? Are you aware of yours?

As a leader, every action you take, consciously or otherwise, has an impact on the members of your team. Your actions indirectly define their values, ethics and work standards. So how do ensure the messages they hear are the ones you intend them to follow?

Awareness is key. If you don’t know what message you’re sending, you can’t adapt it. That’s where emotional intelligence comes in. Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand our own emotions and those of the people around us, and to change our behaviour to positively impact them through effective communication. This helps us to build relationships, increase employee engagement and collaboration.

Emotional awareness requires constant self-reflection, to ensure you are always portraying the values you stand for. It’s also about being aware of the triggers that impact your own emotions. Being able to identify them and taking time to pause, breathe and deliver considered responses or actions.

360 feedback is also essential for awareness – not necessarily formal feedback through a survey, but by actively engaging with seniors, peers and other key stakeholders.  This is the simplest way to learn, understand and respond to the impact your behaviour and actions are having on others.

Once you tap into that ability to be self-aware and understand the shadow you’re casting, the next step is to shape it by developing your skills in areas such as people insights, communication, influencing skills, and effective Coaching.

CEO Jim Clifton, in the summary accompanying his organization’s 2013 “State of the American Workplace” employee engagement study, said “The single biggest decision you make in your job—bigger than all the rest—is who you name manager. When you name the wrong person manager, nothing fixes that bad decision.”

As we’ve all heard many times before, “People leave managers, not companies.” so the shadow of the leader is key to employee retention. But it can positively influence so much more than that – engaged, emotionally invested employees that care about business success as much as their leader does. The correlation between leadership values and employee engagement is well established, but can be seen in detail here where listening to employees and leadership integrity in particular are shown to have the greatest impact.

Visit PeopleUnboxed now to find out about leadership programmes that can genuinely help you change the size and shape of your shadow!

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