How to Show Up as a Leader

How to Show Up as a Leader
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How to Show Up as a Leader to Increase Your Influence
For anyone who hopes to influence others, how you show up as a leader matters — especially in high stakes meetings when teams are formed and decisions are made.  Researchers at Harvard have shown that impressions are made quickly and can last a long time in terms of determining trustworthiness, competence, and confidence in a leader. And data from our high stakes leadership simulation assessments confirm that perceptions matter.

To Show Up as a Leader, You Must Have a Leadership Mindset
Certainly, your leadership competence, expertise, and commitment matter.  But your leadership mindset — how you think, learn, and behave — dictates how those around you perceive you. 

Why?  Because mindsets drive what leaders do and why. 

For example, in a recent strategy retreat, one R&D leader who understood the big picture offered constructive suggestions that were best for the health of the company but may not be positive for him or his team.  He thought like an owner, was honest and vulnerable, and greatly increased his stature during the meeting.  One the other hand, a finance leader in the same meeting continued to interpret problems and opportunities with a selfish and silo-based mentality that greatly shrunk his influence.

The R&D leader was open to new information, ready to take on challenges, and thinking of the greater good.  The finance leader was resistant to change, defensive, and had a scarcity mentality.  Same meeting, same context, and two very different mindsets.

Research — How to Show Up as a Leader with a Leadership Mindset?
Participants were divided into three sections and primed with different leadership mindsets.

  • One group was asked to write about their ambitions, an example of when they had power over another person, and when they felt joyful.
  • The second group was asked to consider their obligations, when someone had power over them, and when they felt sad — the opposite of the first section.
  • The third section was not primed in any way.

Then each group was asked to work as a team to make an important decision. Afterward, teammates rated each other on status. Who led the group? Whom did you most admire? Who wielded the most influence?

The results were clear. Those participants who had been prompted to think positively about their future were more proactive in the group discussion and decision-making and achieved significantly greater status than those participants who focused on negative situations and those who were neutral.

What Does this Mean for Leaders?
To increase your influence as a leader, spend time before your next meeting thinking positively about the future. Write down what you hope to achieve in the next year and describe a time when you were happy and excited. Having an abundance mentality and focusing on your goals and aspirations will predispose you to more “leader-like” behavior. Those in your sphere will see you as proactive, confident, and optimistic.

Then once you are in a leadership moment:

  • Be clear about what you want to accomplish
  • Listen more than you speak
  • When you speak, be clear and concise
  • Inquire more than you advocate
  • When you advocate, align to strategic priorities, company values, and what others care most about
  • Explicitly reward and recognize behaviors and outcomes that you seek
  • Find common ground during disagreements

The Bottom Line
When you can visualize yourself as a leader, you make it easier for others to see you in that role. Show up as a leader and you will earn greater status. Then it will be your job to continue to be someone worthy of respect that others want to follow and be influenced by.

To learn how to improve how you show up as a leader, read 8 Reasons Why Leaders Need 360 Feedback

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