Bruna Martinuzzi is a consultant who specializes in teaching leadership and presentation skills. She is also the author of two books, and while I have not read either book, I have read an article she published recently with the rather long-winded title, “If your leadership aura could use some polishing, try these 7 tips for creating executive presence with employees and customers alike.” In that article, she suggests a very compelling way to gauge the effectiveness of your leadership style. To learn more about the measurement she recommends, please read below.
How does your leadership style make people feel?
Research by the Gallup organization has shown that the number one factor determining whether or not someone is “engaged” (productive, energized, supportive, happy, etc.) at work is his or her immediate supervisor. No surprise there, right? If your relationship with your boss is positive, mutually supportive, and mutually respectful, chances are you’re a happy camper and you probably whistle on your way to work every day. Conversely, if you worship the quicksand your boss walks on, you probably dread going to work every day, and the chances of you being a happy camper are slim to none. Which brings us to Bruna Martinuzzi’s take on how you know if your leadership style is effective.
She said, “Ask yourself this: When people walk away from having interacted with you, do they feel better about themselves, or worse?”
Actually, she said that in the context of how well a leader communicates, but I think it works equally well for all aspects of leadership. Consider these situations from an employee’s perspective:
• When the boss is “explaining” something to me, is it a positive, learning experience? Or do I feel disrespected and talked down to?
• When the boss and I disagree about something, do I feel my point of view got a fair hearing, or was it largely ignored?
• When I make suggestions for improving the way we do things, does my boss take my ideas seriously, or are my ideas dismissed out of hand?
• When I perform at a level that’s above what’s expected of me, does my boss notice, or are my efforts ignored?
These are only a few of the routine, daily interactions that can occur between a supervisor and a subordinate. There are many more. But the point is, if you follow Ms. Martinuzzi’s thinking, each of these little interactions is an opportunity to make someone feel good about themselves, and those opportunities should not be wasted. Remember, it’s your relationship with your subordinates that will determine whether they really throw themselves into supporting the company’s goals, or they just put in their time and collect a paycheck.
None of this is to say you shouldn’t correct people when they step out of line, or that you always need to agree with them. Even when they disagree with you, people will feel good about themselves if they get your full, undivided attention, and if the interaction is handled with dignity and respect. And do you know what else? If you make a concentrated effort to make people feel good about themselves, you’ll feel pretty darn good about yourself too.