I’ve always loved the question “What advice would you give to your younger self?” It really is a great question and gets you thinking. The more experienced and mature mind can conjure up lots of robust and insightful advice for the younger self with the benefit of epic learning’s, failures and successes. Oh the benefit of hindsight.
The question of would you want you as a boss really takes it to another level. This is a real self-awareness exercise and that moment where you need to hold a mirror up and assess your reflection – all of it. Do you like what you see? As Peter Drucker said, “You cannot manage other people unless you manage yourself first.” Leadership starts with understanding and leading yourself. When you understand yourself, you are better able to understand the people you lead and what makes them tick.
A recent study by McKinsey & Co found over 70% of leaders rate themselves as inspiring. This does not come as a surprise. In general if you ask a leader if they believe they are a good leader they will respond in the affirmative. But as the 2016 Gallup engagement survey found, only 13% of employees surveyed worldwide are engaged and 82% of employees see their leaders as uninspiring. Ouch! There’s a clear mismatch of perceptions going on here. And as we know only too well, the perception others have of us is our reality, agree with it or not.
So back to the question, would you want you as a boss? Perhaps these questions will help:
- Are you in the 17% of leaders whose employees find inspiring? Why?
- How would you describe you as a leader through the eyes of an employee? Be honest!
- What aspects of your leadership would you value as an employee?
- What would annoy you?
- Would you feel included and valued?
Let’s look at it another way, if I was to revert to a slightly different question; “What advice would I give my younger self to be a better leader?” the response is simple:
- Drop the busy badge; it’s not working for you.
- Listen to me to understand me not to shoot me down or close me down.
- Value my contributions and encourage me to participate. Believe in me.
- Recognise my strengths and what I bring to the team.
- Don’t put me under pressure because of your reactiveness
- Do what you say you’re going to do.
- Be a great role model that I can learn from.
- Make a damn decision and stick to it (a bit of a bug bear!).
Too much to ask, I don’t think so! This is what I value in a leader and when I did a range of interviews a couple of years ago as part of The Leadership Academy, it was certainly in line with what people across all generations are looking for in a leader. The fundamentals don’t change too much though the emphasis on certain qualities might, even though our environment, challenges and demographics have changed dramatically.
Your ability to inspire and influence lies in the honest response to this question of ‘would you want you as a boss?’ and is directly linked to your level of self-awareness. The more attuned to your leadership the better chance you have to inspire others, to calm the chaos, to be a great role model and to maintain your relevance. You will have a much better chance to be part of the 17% who inspires their employees and who can create a culture that engages and values their employees. Even if you just work for you or have a team of one, you want to be known as someone others want to work for. Who knows what the future will bring.