It’s a new year. And that means a new set of leadership opportunities and challenges!
If you’ve been reading my posts for a while, you’ll know that I’m big on self-leadership.
That is, the part where we make an effort to understand ourselves, gain an awareness of what drives us, and use this information to show up the best way we can, every day. Or at least most of the days.
I think self-leadership is one of the biggest drivers or good and bad leadership behaviour. Of course, we can learn better ways to lead and motivate others too, but it all starts with us.
In this post, I’m going to focus on a few really important leadership beliefs.
In my view, these beliefs are fundamental to leading people effectively and helping them bring their best self to work.
But these beliefs aren’t just helpful for the people we lead. We’ll see how they can help us, too.
So What Are These Magical Leadership Beliefs?
When I’m talking about leadership beliefs, I mean the things we believe to be true when we walk through the front doors of our workplace.
What we believe shapes our behaviour. So if we have useful, constructive beliefs about a person or a situation, we’re likely to be the best version of ourselves.
In this post, I’m going to outline just three core beliefs that I believe are critical to good leadership.
I’ll also take a look at what you might do if you don’t believe these are true in your situation!
Belief #1: People Don’t Come to Work to Do a Bad Job, or to Make Other People Miserable.
You’re at work.
One of your team members (Bob) has made a mistake and your boss has picked up on it, then given you a call.
Your instinctive reaction might be something like:
Bob, that idiot! Why can’t he take more care with his work?
Now I have to fix it and my manager thinks I’m not paying attention to what’s going on.
This is understandable. After all, you’ve just had a call from your boss with some not-so-good feedback.
When it comes to handling the situation, your beliefs make a difference.
If you believe that Bob isn’t interested in doing a good job, and has just made your life harder, you’re likely to engage with the situation in a more controlling manner.
You might demand greater oversight, or tell him he’d better not do it again. Maybe you’ll check everything he does from now on. This approach probably won’t get the best out of Bob.
Instead, what if you believed that Bob actually wants to do a good job? Would that be different?
I think it would. I think it would mean that you’d approach the situation with a different demeanour. Instead of anger or resentment, now it’s about curiosity.
“I wonder why Bob made that mistake?”
Or if Bob has done this before…
“I wonder what it is that causes Bob to keep making that mistake?”
Can you see the difference?
With a more curious mindset, you’re far more likely to ask questions and to try to find the cause of the issue.
Belief #2: People Are Capable of Improving and Learning New Things.
Sometimes we have a tendency to believe that people are incompetent, incapable or ineffective.
And that this is how they are.
Of course, we know that this isn’t really true. Everyone can think of a time where they didn’t know how to do something, and they were able to learn it. Gradually, they became really good at it.
But I find that leaders sometimes make quick judgements when it comes to what their people can do.
When people can’t do something, it might be because they are unskilled. But it might also be that they’ve never been asked, or been provided with the opportunity.
When we believe our people are fixed, we place limits on them. We don’t delegate, we don’t offer them training, because we think they’re only good for a certain level of work or responsibility.
But if you believe your people can improve, learn and get better, you have a whole set of options available to you.
If you believe your people can improve and learn, you’ll likely approach them in a supportive manner, seeing what you can do to help them get on their way.
Learn More: Team Improvement: 5 Reasons Smart Leaders Love It.
Belief #3: People Can Feel Motivated at Work.
How often have you heard this in your workplace?
“He’s not motivated. He just wants to do his work and go home.”
That’s right, it’s the sound of a leader who believes that this person is impossible to motivate, and will never be able to be fully engaged at work.
It’s worth stating up front here that not everybody loves work and prioritises career success.
For some people, work is a way to earn money so they can do other things that they enjoy. Nevertheless, it’s foolish to believe that these people can never be motivated at work.
It depends on what we mean by motivated. If we mean we want the person to do more than they are being paid for, then this isn’t really fair or desirable.
But if motivation means that the person is engaged and productive for the majority of the time they’re at work, this is much better. If it means that the person takes pride in their work and takes extra care, this works too.
When we believe that people aren’t able to feel motivated at work, we’ll stop trying to create an environment where they can thrive.
On the other hand, if we believe that the potential for motivation exists within everyone, we are more likely to try new things that may help them find theirs.
How Do These Leadership Beliefs Help?
These leadership beliefs can help us from two different directions.
Firstly, they can help our people, because we are more likely to spend effort to support and provide opportunities to someone we believe can improve, wants to do well and can feel motivated at work.
Second, they help us, too. If we believe people can improve, want to do well and can feel motivated at work, then we’ll have greater options to train, up-skill and provide greater responsibility.
Instead of limiting our people, we’ll behave in a way that opens them up to improvement and greater motivation.
What better way to help yourself than to have a team that’s better at delivering?
But Hold On a Minute, What If I Don’t Believe These Things?
It’s possible that you don’t hold these leadership beliefs.
After all, your beliefs will have formed based on your past experiences and the opinions of the people you surround yourself with.
Don’t take my word for it. Take these beliefs for a spin and see how they work for you!
How do you do that?
You ask yourself the question:
“What would a leader do if they believed these things?”
And then go and do those things.
Even if you don’t believe deep down, you can take action that produces the same intent.
Over time, if those actions yield a positive result, then you might find that your belief starts to grow.
What do you think of these leadership beliefs? Let me and all the thoughtful leaders know in the comments below!