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As a leader, you need to hold the mirror up and ask yourself – what impact am I having on my team and those around me. Each team is a mirror reflection of the leader. Without a good, strong reputation, it’s hard to get others to trust you and work with you – which in turn makes it hard to deliver great results. And it works the other way as well of course – if you don’t deliver great results, you will not be perceived well.
We always have an impact and as a leader, it is exaggerated, it’s like a magnifying glass effect. If your team are not performing, you have to start by reviewing your own leadership. What are you role modelling to others? What are you rewarding as good behaviour and what are you demonstrating in your behaviours that others are following?
Your behaviour has much more of an impact than you may think. So you then need to start being more intentional about the impact you want to have and how you lead your team. As a leader, you have an impact every day, minute by minute, action by action and behaviour by behaviour. All of this creates the culture you are developing in your team and the organisation so it can be one of delivering or not delivering.
Leadership = Impact = Culture
Here are five ways to create a strong, positive reputation for you and your team – a team that is well perceived and delivers:
Explore and then confirm your own and your team’s brand: for your team brand, do it as a
What do you want to be known for, what do you want others to say about you? What impact do
you want to have? That you are collaborative, responsible, knowledgeable? Or something else?
Decide for yourself what your brand is and then get your team involved around the team brand.
Whatever it is, discuss and agree on how to achieve that, keeping in mind that reputation is influenced by how you do something, not just what you do.
Ask for feedforward – not feedback
Do you know what people are saying about you and your team? If the answer is no, go find out; ask for honest feedback. Do this for yourself and for your team. Discuss as a team what you think people will say – as a way of then comparing your team self-awareness with the answers you get.
Ask your team: what is the perception of us from our various audiences? If you have done point 1 above, you can also include questions that specifically ask about what you want to be known for, to find out if it’s currently noticed by others. It can sometimes be hard to get honest feedback if you ask for yourself and your team. If you suspect this to be the case, look for outside help to gather anonymous/confidential feedback for you.
Keep your promises; deliver on time and to expectations
It may sound simple, but constant busy-ness often means that people juggle with priorities and miss deadlines. On top of that, they may not manage expectations effectively, by letting the other party know that their delivery will be delayed or the contents adjusted. For yourself as a leader, challenge yourself on keeping those promises and see your commitments as promises, a promise means much more.
Spend time as a team realistically managing others’ expectations – expectation setting can be crucial to the perception of your team. Think about your role in this as a team member and as the leader.
Take responsibility not just for your actions, but maybe even more importantly, your reactions.
Don’t let responses become automatic, use the moment between trigger and response to carefully choose how you will respond to the words and actions of others. Every moment counts. Think about how your response will impact the other party and how it will influence their perception of you and the team.
Learn from results and create better solutions
See all results as feedback and learning. If you had a great result, think: how can we make it even better next time? What are we doing to celebrate that success? How can we exceed expectations or deliver something new? If you didn’t have great results, think: what can we learn from this? What can we rule out for next time? What can we do differently? Build a culture of learning in your team. Whether you would use those words or not, you and your team have a unique brand – just like a company or a product does.
A brand is an expectation that lives in the head of those you are dependent on (or who are dependent on you), your stakeholders. The expectation is based on what you’ve explicitly or implicitly promised AND the experience they have had of you – whether good or bad or indifferent.
Will you leave your own and the team’s brand to chance or will you take control of it and build a
strong, honest brand that delivers? The choice is yours.
Mandy Flint and Elisabet Vinberg Hearn are leadership strategists with a focus on future trends for leadership. They are multi award-winning authors, their 3 rd Book for FT publishing The Leader’s Guide To Impact is out now.