What gift will you give your employees this festive season? Christmas vouchers or throwing an office party might seem like a nice thing to do (and will probably be appreciated), but the gift that will really be appreciated - and is much more lasting - is the gift of leadership.
For Christmas this year, and something your employees will feel the benefits of for the other 11 months of the year too, model these great leadership attributes:
If you don’t hold yourself accountable as a leader, it’s going to be hard to try to do the same for others.
So, this festive season - and moving forward into the New Year - make sure you take responsibility for yourself. Ask, are there things other people see in me that I don’t see in myself? Answering this question involves understanding your strengths and weakness, your interpersonal preferences and how you come across to others.
When you take responsibility for yourself, it makes it hard to dismiss the aspects of your behaviour that aren’t serving you. Instead, you own the way you show up and embrace opportunities to make adjustments depending on the demands of your environment.
Just as you can’t give a genuine gift to someone without knowing what they like and dislike, you can’t work successfully with a team member if you don’t understand why they operate the way they do.
In 2019 one of the best gifts you can give your team is an awareness of both your own and others’ strengths and areas for improvement; understanding similarities and differences in the way you orientate yourselves to the world; and recognising that team members may have different styles of communicating.
Without understanding who you work with, you are subject to a guessing game of how your team members will receive your contributions.
Gifts that are given with a great deal of thought are much more enjoyable to receive than those given out of obligation or some kind of expected reciprocation. Giving gifts should not be a chore. Giving someone honest, considerate, timely feedback shows that you are invested in that person and want them to do well. To enable people to grow, give them feedback on what they are doing well and where they can improve in an authentic way, which shows you care.
Wherever possible, try to arrange a specific time in your calendar to give feedback, just as you would block out time for a special occasion to exchange gifts or for a festive meal. Feedback should almost never be given on the spur of the moment, or casually thrown at someone without warning, as this does not allow the receiver to be fully prepared or open to receive it.
It’s easy to spot when a Christmas gift is given from the heart. In the same way, by being able to ‘lift your veil’ and reveal your true self, you transfer humility, credibility and trust to those around you. Authentic leaders generate believability by being ‘human’ while also creating an environment that encourages others to show their true selves too.
‘Big ego leadership’ lies at the opposite end of the continuum to authentic leadership. Authentic leadership holds out the first and foremost principle, ‘it’s not about me’.
It’s akin to the truly brilliant magician who knows that he cannot cross over into the world of magic until he puts everything else aside and behind him - including his own desires and needs - and focuses totally on bringing an experience to the audience.
Praise and recognition
Sometimes when you’re giving a gift, it’s important to make the receiver and others know the reasons behind the gesture, especially when they’ve earned it. Praise and appropriately suited recognition for a job well-done can be just the thing that lets an employee know they are appreciated.
It doesn’t stop there. Appropriate acknowledgement of the contributions people make goes right to the heart of your organisation - it informs who leaves and takes their knowledge and passion with them. To get the best out of people you need to let them grab an idea with both hands, turn it into something that’s real and acknowledge the good work they have done.
But be aware, a person’s preference on how they are recognised (publicly or in private) depends on their interpersonal style. The goal is to make your team members know that they are valued and do it in a way that suits each of them.