Finding the reality of someone’s leadership can be hard. It got easier for me once I learned how to think about it. You need to look in the shadow of the leader.
Yes, the shadow.
Think about it this way. One of the questions I often pose to people is: If you had this role and I came back a year from now, and couldn’t talk to you, how would I know you were here? What would I see, hear and observe in the people, operation, alignment and outlook? It helps you see the effect of someone’s leadership on the environment in which they lead.
It works for an interview question too. It helps you see how people think, how they prioritize, what they see as markers of their success and if they understand the true impact of leadership.
It works for assessing a leader whether you are looking for a change or evaluating your individual team members at any level or even your boss.
I like this process because it uncovers real evidence of their impact. And causes you to be your own “CSI agent” in collecting the facts from different perspectives to assemble the story. It has allowed me to see and understand the ripple effect of dysfunction caused by a leader as well as see the evidence of their impact on people development, creating sustainable momentum and focus. It also allows me to see their ability to be proactive and ahead of the game.
This process has also been amazing at evaluating whether a leader and I are compatible, how to optimize our work together to drive better outcomes or to see more clearly that there is no corrective action alternatives I can take. We just simply shouldn’t work together.
The power of the evidence serves as a “real conversation” with myself and helps me focus on areas I need to improve and be more aware of to ensure my leadership has impact.
It’s a powerful exercise. Take some time and look at the shadows next time you are evaluating the impact of leadership. It will change the way you see things, and make you better. You will understand more clearly how to manage your own power to lead your life. I look forward to hearing what you discover and how it has impacted your perspective.