The Three Important Aspects of Leadership are….
Behavior, behavior, behavior! An effective leader must lead and behave in a way that is consistent with their words. The word “lead” is a verb and verbs typically express “action“. Leadership is an action and actions are behaviors, they are not “personalities”. An individual’s personality, can affect their behaviors, but personality alone can only go so far in a person’s influence and ability to lead and it will not win over followers in the long run nor keep followers committed to the organization. Personality is “shallow” and fleeting, whereas behaviors are the product of deeply held beliefs and “convictions” that are manifested through a person’s actions. As John Maxwell states “It is impossible to behave in a manner that is inconsistent with the way we see ourselves.” If a person sees themselves as “honest” then they will behave honestly. When one examines Kouzes and Posner’s list of characteristics most admired in leaders, it is clearly seen that most of these characteristics are more a product of behavior than they are personality.
Leaders must demonstrate and model the behavior they want their followers to have. It is a matter of “walking the talk”. Doing what you say and saying what you will do. It doesn’t matter what a leader says, if their behavior doesn’t match their words, they will be perceived as insincere and hypocritical. Titles are granted, but it’s your behavior that wins you respect.
Leaders should never ask someone to do something they are unwilling to do. They must be the models of the behavior they expect in others. It is this modeling of the expected behavior that gives the leader their credibility which is the foundation of leadership. A leader’s behavior provides the evidence of their character. Followers will observe the behavior of the leader to evaluate whether or not it is in line with what the leader is saying.
The research of Kouzes and Posner indicates that when it comes to deciding whether a leader is believable, people first listen to the words, then they watch the actions. This is what the authors call “Credibility Behaviorally”. In other words, “does the leader do what they say they will do”? A judgment of “credible” is handed down when words and deeds are consonant.
What do your “behaviors” say about your credibility?