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Veteran’s Day: Becoming a Decisive & Inspiring Leader | #ICMIchat Rundown (November 10, 2020)

Paper boats on hard surface.

Leaders are all around us, influencing our lives at home, at work, and everywhere in between. Great leaders may inspire us, coach us toward our full potential, and help us become great leaders ourselves. Poor leaders can leave lasting scars of distrust, dampening our ability to be successful. Whether we're called to lead others to accomplish a big goal or our leadership is incidental to our day job, it's essential to get it right. In honor of Veteran's Day, #ICMIchat invited guest-host Jacob Shields to guide a discussion about developing our leadership style.

Join us on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. Eastern, 10 a.m. Pacific to weigh in on the contact center industry's most pressing challenges. Check out next week's discussion and join the conversation on Twitter!

Influential Leaders

John Maxwell says, "The true measure of leadership is influence." Our community pointed out various influencers in their lives, ranging from their parents to industry experts. Many people influence our leadership styles for either positive or negative reasons. Whether you love or hate your boss, take notes about how their management style impacts you and consider how you'd like this to relate to your leadership behaviors. Each experience is a learning opportunity; pay attention!

I don't want to pick one person, but I will. Brad Cleveland because of what he helped to create in ICMI. It's through that community where I've gained the most genuine business relationships and grown leaps & bounds in my career.

I can't choose one "most influential" person in my career. I've had people who shaped my philosophy, my perception of risk, my ambition, my thinking and my writing. So many years, so many mentors and leaders!

For me, it's been different people at different points in my career. They all encouraged creativity and collaboration. They included me. They gave me space to be creative. They kicked me in the pants when I needed it.

Enabling Influence

While a job title makes you a manager, it doesn't automatically give you the power to influence your team. Aspiring leaders must instill trust and confidence; it's important to remember that different followers will appreciate other qualities. One employee may value ruthless innovation and constant change, whereas another may be more concerned with managing the team's emotions and creating psychological safety. There's no single right answer for which quality to focus on; it depends on the individuals you seek to inspire.

They developed trust, created transparency, were fair but tough. Spent time on leadership skills, emotional intelligence, developing team norms and expectations. A lot of EQ stuff.

For me I hold massive respect for leaders that lead by example. It's important for leaders to be wiling to get their hands dirty with their team. Servant leadership, understanding and empathy are critical as well.

Challenged everything: me, org structure, process, analytics, decision making, status-quo. A serial question asker. And relentless defender of the customer or client.

The most influential people in my life have been good listeners.

Who We Influence

One of the great rewards of leadership is seeing where those who have followed us end up. Whether it's our children, employees, or other mentees, it's a thrill to watch them flourish under our guidance. Although we may not realize it, we have a tremendous ability to impact those we work closely with. Keep this in mind as you interact with your team throughout the day.

When I was a hotel general manager, my administrative assistant asked me to mentor her in how to lead others. She eventually became the GM of that property and has credited me for her success. But I know it was her passion to succeed that really led her.

Had the honor of promoting several folks into support management at my former company. Always loved that stage of guiding a brand new leader through their first year.

I try to influence only the creation of some useful good habits. Sweat the details. Commit & deliver. Address discomfort. Encourage questions. Seek clarity. Laugh, let laugh. Embrace failure. Use success for energy. Work only to live a happy life. Do your duties.

How To Influence

There are a variety of ways in which leaders may influence their teams. Leaders must develop a style that matches the needs of their stakeholders and the situation. Some occasions require seriousness; others require playfulness. Certain groups thrive in rigid, defined environments, whereas others need space and leeway to be creative.

This has changed with pervasive work-from-home policies. Working out loud is a key skill for team members, but is also critical for leaders. Be clear about progress, milestones, and success measurements.

Influence comes with listening, understanding, communicating clearly, following through on promises, and doing things that make others' jobs and lives easier. By all means, if you want to influence someone, do not add red tape to their life!

Hopefully in setting examples of Walking the Talk. Defending the customer's success. Always seeking continuous improvement. Always questioning performance. Thinking through the experience and touch points.

Traits for Success

Leaders are made, not born. To become an excellent leader, or refine your skills, consider the traits you've identified as critical to important leaders in your life. Of course, leadership cannot be distilled down to a single trait, but identifying a few key characteristics to focus on helps shape your development and reflect on your progress.

You have no right to lead others if you are not passionate about what you want to achieve.

The ability to deliver truth with grace. Leading is great when things are going well. But what happens when it isn't is what defines a great leader.

The ability unite people authentically toward a common, meaningful purpose.

Values Influence Leaders

Our values shape how we make sense of the world, and they play a large role in how we lead others. Our values influence our priorities, how we relate to other people, and what we expect of them. Understanding what we value personally helps manage our expectations and emotions for our team. Each leader's value system is different and has been shaped through various experiences, leading to various leadership styles. Be sure to share these with your team, and inquire about their values, too.

I value individuality. Each beautiful soul that enters into your life or career will look, feel, sound & behave differently. Embrace the differences and leverage them for creativity, innovation and creating empathy.

Family. It impacts my leadership because I take the people I lead and my leaders as my family.

One of my most important values is that people can learn, change, and grow. Therefore, I focus on a bountiful future, on learning, and on each person's potential. Leaders see opportunity. As an educator, I see opportunities to learn.

The Value of Trust

Trust is a vital component of leadership. Those we seek to influence must have high confidence in our ability to lead them where they want to go, treat them with care and respect, and take actions that benefit the team. Trust also plays a role in transparency among the group. When members feel safe, they can give and receive feedback openly and with respect. Poor communication, a commonly cited problem among teams, can often be a symptom of untrusting environments.

1 of the most important, yet least discussed, traits in leading. Everything is better w/ trust. You're better, stronger, more flexible, more capable. Without it, your entire team is weaker. And, from experience, trying to build trust where it hasn't existed is HARD

Trust forms the bedrock of any good relationship. You build it by allowing other people the space to do what they do best, and doing your best to help them succeed. Might sound abstract but isn’t that difficult really. Sure, you win some & lose some. But that’s OK!

Setting Your Agenda

Outstanding leadership often appears effortless from the outside, but excellent leaders are often executing a very deliberate approach. Creating a leadership agenda helps to organize and prioritize initiatives, challenge your awareness of self, and facilitate incremental mastery of the various skills you'll need to be successful. Your plan will keep you on track, focused on what's truly important rather than being distracted by daily firefighting.

I love how @ferrazzi talks about having your own personal board of directors...essentially a group of diverse mentors. I depend on mine for wise counsel and to let me know what I am not being true to my personal brand.

I just started on my personal leadership agenda (LA) thanks to a recent Leader Skill Building class with my CEO! It was inspiring and really challenged me to think about how I can impact those around me!

Join us on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. Eastern, 10 a.m. Pacific to weigh in on the contact center industry's most pressing challenges. Check out next week's discussion and join the conversation on Twitter!

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels.