Corner Office: Good Leaders Know People — Including Oneself
When a CEO of a large organization walks into a meeting, everything changes. Some people who might have spoken up with a great idea in front of their peers will not take that risk in front of the CEO. It is important for a leader to understand this negative dynamic and diffuse it. If we can get people past our title, it creates more freedom to communicate.
If you are not sure how you are perceived as a leader, there are two things you can do to develop self-awareness. First, do an anonymous, objective, 360-degree review on yourself. Be sure to include people who love you and people who might not. Do this every couple years, and heed the results.
Second, identify one or two trusted, well-placed people who will tell you the truth. A lot of leaders fail to give permission to people to talk honestly with them. But you need that.
As leaders, we often need to spend a lot of time dealing with abstract issues, such as policies, strategies, financials, goals or customer data. If we aren't careful, we can begin to think that it is in these areas where leadership lies. But an organization is made up of people. These individuals determine its success or failure, and as their leaders, we have to think first about the people we lead.