I’ve seen numerous definitions and descriptions of leadership over the years (my favorites, incidentally, include “influence” in the definition). But of all the ways leadership is perceived and defined, there’s one aspect of leadership that is often overlooked and under-appreciated: Leadership ultimately expresses itself in an outward, visible behavior.

This is so obvious that many miss it altogether. Yet it so foundational that, in my opinion, if you miss it you won’t be able to move the needle on improving your effectiveness as a leader.

Leadership ultimately expresses itself in an outward, visible behavior.

And Your Point Is…?

You’re communicating, with every action you take. Every facial expression, body movement, every tone of every word you speak … they are all messages you’re sending.

You’re communicating—even when you’re not trying to—and everyone is listening.

So What?

Bad news first: You’re always on. There’s no escaping it. Every impatient display, slip of the tongue, sloppy comment, misplaced criticism, poorly-timed reaction … they’re all a matter of public record. There’s no escaping it.

Good news: You get to determine what everyone else sees. You manage it all. It takes practice, of course, and some intentional effort to overcome decades of bad habits. But the more aware you are of your behavior, the more you will be able to use your behavior in your favor.

More good news: You only have to focus on a few areas before you’ll see immediate impact.

One of my clients realized his employees seemed disengaged and distant. After working through this principle, he realized he had the habit of coming into his business with his sunglasses on, head down and in a hurry. Unknowingly, he was shouting “Don’t bother me!”

He decided to remove his sunglasses before he walked into the door, and intentionally make eye contact and engage each employee in conversation as quickly as reasonably possible. The response from his team was immediate and surprisingly helpful.

“Taking off the sunglasses” became the metaphor for purposefully managing every aspect of his behavior and totally transforming his management style and even his sales approach to his customers.

Sunglasses. It might be as simple as that.

You’re communicating—even when you’re not trying to—and everyone is listening.

The Big Picture

Measuring and modifying your own behavior is where the leadership rubber meets the road of leadership opportunity. It’s at the core of emotional intelligence.

No matter how much you know about leadership, it all has to ultimately express itself in your behavior with others.

Measuring and modifying your own behavior is where the leadership rubber meets the road of leadership opportunity.

Your Next Step

What’s the first behavior you can begin modifying?

Pin It on Pinterest