Podcast

Executive Leadership Podcast #4: Your People Are Watching You All the Time

We’ve learned that at Level 1 of the 5 Levels of Leadership, people follow you because they have to. Now as a Level 2 leader, people follow you because they want to — and people are watching you ALL. THE. TIME. They’re watching your behaviors. They’re trying to determine if you’re someone they’ll allow to influence them or if you’re somebody they should stay away from. In the 4th episode of our Executive Leadership Podcast, Chris Goede and Perry Holley will explore how to gain trust and influence as a leader, which starts with leading — and knowing — yourself.

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Read the transcript below:

Welcome to the John Maxwell Company Executive Leadership Podcast where our goal is to help you increase your level of influence, increase your reputation as a leader, and increase your ability to fully engage your team to drive remarkable results. I’m Chris Goede, Vice President with the John Maxwell Company, and I’m Perry Holley, certified John Maxwell facilitator and coach.

Chris, today’s episode is titled, “Your People Are Watching You All The Time.” What does that mean? Well we previously talked about becoming a title leader, right? In our last episode, we talked about as a sales producer, you now become a sales leader and how important it was though for you to move from Level 1, your starting place where we all start and the organization thought enough of you to give you that title, to Level 2 as quickly as possible.

Level 1, as you recall, is where people follow you because they have to. You’re the boss, you have the title, and people have to follow you if they want that paycheck. But, at Level 2, when people follow you, it’s because they want to. This happens when you begin to connect with them, develop relationships with the people, and you increase your circle of influence with the team or those individuals. When people decide to follow you because they want to and not because they have to, that’s a huge improvement in your leadership journey. But, what determines if they will make that move from you having the right to lead them to them to giving you the permission to lead them? They’re watching you all the time. Leadership is visual. John says it all the time. People are watching you.

And, that makes perfect sense to me, but what are they watching for? Well, they’re watching for your behaviors. They’re trying to determine if you are someone that they will allow to actually influence them or are you someone they want to stay away from?

All right, we’ve all had those leaders before, Perry, where we we go, “Well, there’s Chris, he’s in his office today. Good thing as door shut because I don’t want him to see me or I don’t want to see him or have a conversation with them”. We’ve all worked for leaders like that. We want to watch to make sure that we will give that leader permission to actually lead us. Ultimately, John says they’re asking themselves this question, “do they care for me personally?”

I know I worked for a leader once that I felt bad for the person that’s closest to the elevator because we would all stop at their desk and say, “what’s the temperature today?” They say, thumbs up or thumbs down, and that would determine how you would go to your desk because you couldn’t trust where this leader was.

Now, I’ve heard it said that the most difficult person to lead is often yourself. I’ve heard John say this at the hardest person to lead is me. Why do you think that is? Well, I think it’s a couple of things, and I have heard John say that. I think one of them is because we often give ourselves a little bit of a break, right? Probably more so than we give others. We will judge ourselves by our intentions and we judge others by their actions, and as leaders, it’s our responsibility to make sure that we close that gap. At The John Maxwell Company, we call that the IP gap, the intention versus perception gap, and it’s one of the most powerful conversations that you can begin to have an understand that you are closing that gap. And, you are right. John says it all the time. John said the hardest person to lead is yourself and you can’t lead yourself until you know yourself, and a lot of us don’t truly know ourselves, especially as leaders. We say “I wonder what it would, what, what does it feel like to be led by you?” Or “what does it look like on the other side of your leadership?” If you ask that question, you’re probably going to give it a little bit of a different answer than if you went and authentically ask people to give you transparent feedback on that. The answers would would be completely different.

I’ve always noticed you kind of judge yourself by what I intend to do, judge you by what you actually did. Right? And believe me, my intentions are amazing. So when people look at you, what reveals to someone how you lead yourself, what you said they’re looking into watching me all the time. What is it that they see that tells me that I lead myself well? What do they notice?

Yeah, I think, I think there’s several things that leaders can do that will tell followers right away what kind of person and what kind of leader they really are. First, it’s how you either display or delay your emotions. How someone handles good news versus bad news can tell you a lot. If they are over the top on good news in positive way and over the top on bad news in a negative way, they will cause followers to kind of hold back and not necessarily fully commit to you and your cause. I talk about one of the greatest things I like to see in leaders that kind of speaks right to what I’m talking about here is consistency. The more consistent you can be as a leader, the more influence and the more trust that you will gain. Which, by the way, trust is the currency to all influence. The more trust you will gain from your team when you become that rock, that consisten leader for them.

I love that word. Consistency. If I had to say one thing I’ve learned in my career was that by being consistent with emotion, not displaying, but delaying, having a gap between some stimulus and my response really sets my influence at a higher level with people that are around me and I know followers love that consistency when they see that in you. Tell me, do other areas come to mind that you see where leaders really need to be careful?

Yeah. And I think personally for me, and there are probably many others, there’s probably some for you listening today that are different than some of the ones I’m talking about, Perry, you probably have a couple of different ones. But with that question, I think about a couple of things that actually kind of fall under the category or subcategory of consistency, which is, you know, how are they using their time? What do their priorities look like? And do you see them working on things that other people in the organization can be doing, or are they focusing on things that only they can be doing for the organization? Are they always late for meetings? I know that’s always an issue for us. We jam pack our calendars were things that we go from one meeting to the other. And so we’re continually running late. And here’s another thing about that. One of the things that’s frustrating about that is you’re not allowing the people or yourself as a leader when you’re late for meetings to truly reflect on the meeting you just had to gather the proper action items and the to-do steps. And so what ends up happening is that gets pushed off to after work hours or maybe even forgotten altogether.

Another thing is back to consistency, right? You’re running around here with your hair on fire, right? We’re going a different direction today than we were yesterday or for that matter, we go in different directions this afternoon than we were this morning and everything becomes extremely urgent. And, that’s an issue. And, then I talked a little bit about the commitment, you know, are you over-committing your calendar, making sure that you’re leaving some white space in there will tell a lot of people about how you have the ability to manage your priorities and would they trust you, would they empower you, would they want you to help them with that?

The other thing is too, and again, I think it’s funny we talked about consistency. It all falls back into this is how are you managing your energy as a leader? That’s something that you need to make sure you’re very aware of because people will watch that and they’ll feed off of that. So, whether it’s negative or positive, your team is going to feed off of that energy. You want to make sure you don’t have extreme ups or downs, and because not only are they going to feed off of that, but they’re going to mirror that.

So just a reminder, we’re talking about influence, developing your personal influence in the realm of the Five Levels, going from Level 1 to Level 2. How do I get to Level 2? People watching me all the time. What are they watching for? Great examples you’ve given us around, boy, how I manage my time, how I manage my emotions, how I manage my energy, how I managed my priorities. They’re watching to see are you someone that I want to give permission Level 2, to lead me. And so I definitely see this happening all around. I had one guy I was coaching actually told me, he goes, I don’t trust my boss. I said, can you give me more on that? He says, he’s not doing what he says he was going to do. He said, I can’t hear what he’s saying because his actions are too loud. I thought, well, I’d heard it. Someone else put it. His audio is not lining up with his video thinking. He’s watching him and he’s not seeing that consistency that you mentioned. This brings back a phrase that we talked about what you value. And I know John talked a lot about values in leadership and the way it plays out at Level 1 going to Level 2. How are our values related to your leadership and to your influence?

It’s everything. You know, we teach organizations that there’s really 3 areas when you’re leading and connecting and relating to people that you need to be aware of. You need to understand their DNA. You need to understand how they’re wired, right? And so that comes through different personality assessments. The second bucket is they’re learned behaviors, and we all have developed learned behaviors from external to internal, from past to current situations. And then the third part and the most important part is values. A good friend of ours at Chick-fil-A, Mark Miller, who’s over a lot of their training and development down there, says the fastest way to shape a culture of your team is to understand each other’s values. And so we, we are in complete alignment with that. And we are in total agreement with it.

And actually at the Five Levels course, we take a lot of people through this and will actually go through an entire exercise where in order for you to get people to want to follow, we’ll take you through a values cards exercise to where will then encourage you to have a conversation with your leader, with your direct report, about what your top values are. And I often say this, when we go through this exercise, I said, how many people have worked for a leader that has asked them to do something to jeopardize one of those values that you just came up with? Everybody in the room, and I’m sure you listening today are like, man, I have worked for a leader that has asked me to do that. And then I say, how many of you leading people, which by the way it’s influenced, so we’re all leading, people have asked somebody to do something that jeopardizes one of their values. And then I used the old John Maxwell pregnancy pause and I just let them sit in it and they go, I don’t know. And I say, of course you don’t know because you don’t know their values and that’s a problem. So, we could go into that a lot further, but it’s everything. As a leader, you need to understand what the people that you influence, what they value and what’s important to them because it’s an incredible way to lead them and then they’ll give you permission to lead them even further.

I love that exercise in the class and what I find most people struggle with is that they haven’t really thought about what are the values that I’m communicating, but one of the exercise when we wrap that exercise up, so here are your top five. Now tell me how I see one of those. Describe it to me. Where do I see that in your life? And you’ll find many people put a card back down and I need to pick up another card because you don’t see that in my life. Well pick one and stop wishing it was one and figure out what really are your values because people are watching you all the time and your values drive your behavior and your behavior is what makes me determine am I going to follow you? That’s right or not.

So, Chris, as we start to close this session, give us a call to action. If we want to take this to heart and really think about moving from Level 1 to Level 2 and our behaviors and what people are watching for, what should we be thinking about? What should we be doing?

Well, I think the first thing is we talked a little bit earlier about John saying the hardest person to lead is yourself. And the reason that is and in order to do it successfully is because you need to know yourself. And I don’t think a lot of people are completely honest with it and they don’t truly know themselves as a leader. And so I would encourage you to take some type of assessment self assessment that allows you to kind of put a benchmark on where your leadership is. Uh, one of the things we do with the John Maxwell company is called the Maxwell leadership assessment and in the HR world that is called a 360 assessment. Now, I know I just said that and everybody listening just cringed because I cringe when those come out, as well. But one of the things we’ve done is we’ve taken the 360 assessment and we’ve mapped the results back to Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, Level 4, Level 5, and you’ll take that assessment and you’ll match that of what your peers are saying versus what your answers were. And you’re able to see if there’s a deviation in some of those numbers that will drive you to the fact that, yes, absolutely we need to do some work here because either I don’t understand myself or my people don’t understand that.

The other thing is, and finally, we talked about thee values cards, exercise. That is something that I would encourage you guys to do with those that you lead because ultimately what you want to do is make sure that you are leading them appropriately to the values. For example, and I’ll close with this example. At the John Maxwell company we do this, John says we’re going to live out leadership, we’re gonna, we’re gonna grow together as a team, and so we do the Five Levels of values cards exercise. One of our team members has a value that is balance, right?

And I was at the office the other day getting ready for a trip and it was pretty late and I walked by and I see that her lights were on and I know that one of her top five values is balance. So I walk in there and I’d walk in and go, “Hey, I see one of your values is balance. What are you still doing here?” Like go home. No, I started a conversation of what are you working on? Why are you still here? Because by the way, in addition to balance was family and I was like, what can I help you with? Why are you still here? So we get in those conversations and I promise you she didn’t say this, but I promise you, she walked down and said, wow, that leader cares about the fact that I’m probably a little unbalanced. I’m probably here and I’m not with my family. And when you begin to have conversations like that and you capture their heart before you ask for their hand, your level of influence will grow tremendously.

Fantastic. What a great reminder. Thank you all for joining us. And until next time on the John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast.