The Essence of Leadership
Leaders are the original influencers. Sometimes, they might need to realize the full impact they have on others and make leadership all about themselves. This will inevitably fail. To become a great leader, you need to keep a positive focus even if you’re having an off day. This can be challenging, but with the right technique, it’s possible.
Ask Fuel First answers a question to be more mindful as a leader: How can I be a positive influence in my organization?
The 2nd Rule of Leadership
You might have noticed we posted another article discussing the first fundamental rule of leadership: It’s not about you. Well, now we’re going to tell you the second fundamental rule. It is all about you.
Yes, this is binary opposition. Each idea is logically opposed, yet they change the entire conversation when they’re tied together. Let us explain.
We’ll start to explain by asking a question. Who do you think the average medical assistant or front office staff member will work harder to please? Is it the physician, the administrator, their peers or the patient? Although you would hope the answer is the patient, people usually will answer that they’ll work hardest to please the physician or the administrator—the person who is seen as their leader.
And here’s why.
As a leader, you set the tone and pace. And from there, people will follow. For example, let’s say you complain about a piece of equipment. It’s old and clunky. It takes too much time to use. You are setting the tone for others who may be using that equipment.
Now contrast this with walking in and acknowledging that the equipment is old, but it’s still useful. Yes, there may be a chance to replace it in the future, but it’ll have to wait until the new budget has been decided. You rally the team to do their best to make the most of the situation until the equipment is replaced.
When things aren’t going well, use a voice of optimism to discuss opportunities for change rather than complaining about what’s not working. People are watching you, hearing you and seeing how you respond, and they will follow your lead.
Think of it this way: Your tone, your emotions and the pace you set for yourself are contagious. You can choose to start your day by entering the office, rushing to get to your first meeting, thinking about the mountain of work you have ahead of you and gliding right past your front office team without a thoughtful greeting. Or you can take a moment to greet the front office staff the way you want them to welcome a patient or visitor. Either way, they will follow your example.
People within your organization are watching you and will take your lead on how to handle situations. This is a lesson we learned from Hal.
In a previous job, Jim Fedio, Fuel Medical’s Director of Professional Development, had an employee who turned out to be a bad hire. His name was Hal. Within a few months of Hal starting, everyone in the office disliked him. Hal was rude, temperamental and not a team player. He frequently called in sick, and people were upset about picking up his work. Besides this, Hal looked disheveled and had received several warnings about the dress code and personal hygiene.
After a year of this, Jim had to let Hal go, so he called him into the office. Hal started the conversation by saying he was glad they were meeting because he needed to discuss something. He needed time off because he was being admitted into a rehab facility for drug addiction to steroids, which explained a lot. The mood swings, his inability to make it to work and his unkempt look all made sense. Unfortunately, it was too late, and Jim had no choice but to fire him.
Hal was furious. He stormed out of the office, smashing things along the way, yelling obscenities and causing a disruption. It was intense.
Six months later, Hal called asking if he could see Jim. Jim was shocked to hear from Hal, given the circumstances. Various scenarios started running through Jim’s mind, so he asked if the discussion could be handled over the phone. Hal said that he preferred to meet in person, so Jim reluctantly set up a meeting the next day.
When the receptionist announced Hal had arrived, Jim cautiously approached the lobby. He was surprised to see Hal was well dressed, had lost weight, had combed his hair and looked healthy. Still nervous, Jim asked if they could chat in the lobby. Hal said he preferred to meet in Jim’s office. As they stepped into the office, Jim intentionally left the door open. Hal asked if they could close the door. Jim, beginning to sweat with nerves, asked if the door could stay open. Hal said he preferred the door closed.
Hal began by telling Jim about his life. He was completely sober and had a great job. His marriage was back on track, and his relationship with his kids was better than it had ever been. He was eating healthily and was in the best shape of his life. His life was great! Things seemed to be going well, but Jim wondered why Hal wanted to see him.
Hal looked at Jim and thanked him. He said that going through rehab was one of the hardest things he had ever done, and there were many times he wanted to quit. But he didn’t. The only thing that kept him going was thinking of Jim’s leadership qualities. Whenever he felt like giving up, he would try to emulate Jim.
Jim was shocked. He learned a big lesson that day: Leaders set the tone and pace for the team. Hal recognized that, and it drove him to be better.
What Sets You Apart as a Leader?
To be a great leader, you should have a positive influence on others. It’s important to show up daily, knowing why you do what you do. Identifying your purpose will significantly impact your brand as a leader and ultimately affect your workplace culture.
Simon Sinek (2011) summarized it best: “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” He was referencing companies’ positions in the market, but this applies to you as an individual and a leader. Knowing your “why” helps you stay focused on what’s most critical. It makes you passionate about your goal, clarifies your role as a leader and gives you a sense of gratitude. It’s the foundation upon which integrity is built.
- Who are you?
- What do you stand for?
- Why do you do what you do?
Knowing your purpose is the essence of leadership.
To help you identify your purpose, craft a statement that reflects what you stand for, what motivates you, what you believe in and what inspires you. This will keep you going during those moments when everything seems to go wrong, and you wonder why you agreed to take this job in the first place. And for those of you who haven’t had one of those moments yet, you will.
Here is one leader’s “why” statement: “My role as a leader is ‘to elevate others’ potential, so great things happen.’ ” This is what keeps her motivated. Your statement will be personal and reflect who you are as a person.
If you take away one point from this article, it is this—think about how you influence others as a leader and do your best to model the behaviors you want others to embody. This not only improves work efficiency in your organization, but it changes people’s lives. They know when someone is genuine and cares about them. Be that leader.
For help crafting your individual “why” statement, contact your regional team or the Professional Development team at Fuel Medical, and we will help guide you through the process.
Sinek, S. (2011). Start with why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action. Penguin Books Ltd.