The Leadership Difference

I am fascinated by leadership with its endless number of definitions, inspirational quotes, and books tied to its understanding. Through thirty years of observation and experience, I have seen many different types of leaders. Here are a few that I have personally experienced:

The apathetic leaders: These leaders only want the title that comes with leadership and not the work involved. With the leaders who aren’t too jazzed up about putting the work in, you might as well be invisible. If you knock on their door for guidance, direction, or other forms of communication, you are met with stares of disbelief because you dared to interrupt their valuable time.

The arrogant, insanely rude leaders: Leaders who make inappropriate comments about your personal life, insult your intelligence, or act like a barking Chihuahua.

The micro-managing leaders: These leaders hired you for your skills and expertise, and yet they provide you no opportunity to use them. Every five minutes, an instant message is popping up on your screen, or your phone is ringing with another question.

The somewhat crazy leaders: Their wacky antics may leave you shaking your head or trying not to laugh at their insanity. I once had a boss who wrestled her boyfriend until he would say, "I love you," in front of me.

I have also witnessed outstanding leadership.

In the introduction of my upcoming book, The Attitude Influence, there is a line in which I mention working for my favorite boss. What, in more than three decades in the workforce, made this person my favorite? We certainly didn’t see eye-to-eye in every situation. Yet, despite the differences, the things I admired about her far outweighed any annoyances, hurt feelings, or disagreements.

Because she is highly intelligent, she possessed a badass element that I appreciated. It allowed her to keep her composure more consistently than leaders who do not know their business as well as they should.

Mostly, she was my favorite boss because of the attributes that made her a successful leader. For example:

· She cared. She knew the names of my three children and my husband. She remembered details about them that I shared with her. When I was working through the biggest heartbreak of my life, she made sure I did not need to worry about my job. I was free to worry about recovering from the blow I had suffered.

· She respected me. My opinions, skills, and knowledge were valued. When I made mistakes, she held me accountable and helped me through them without diminishing my past successes.

· She appreciated me. She acknowledged my efforts and achievements with words of gratitude.This leader once wrote a recommendation that was so heartfelt and encouraging I needed time to compose myself after reading it. I felt seen and respected for my efforts.

· Rather than feel threatened by my successes or improvements, she encouraged these things. She helped me seek opportunities and made sure I was considered a capable and talented member of the team.

No leader is perfect. They have bad days and moments like everyone else. Sometimes, they should handle situations more effectively. But just like with any other relationship in our lives, we need to be mindful about appreciating the people who elevate us and care about our happiness. The leaders who see us as people, not just employees. The leaders who encourage us to be the best version of ourselves, and who will clap the loudest when we succeed.

Never dismiss the importance of your leadership role; whether your leadership role is as a parent, a volunteer, an informal leader, or a bold citizen of the planet, your actions matter. You have the unique opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of other people. You have the power to lift people up, let them know they matter, and achieve something extraordinary. Humble yourself to the joy of these possibilities. Don’t waste your gift of leadership.

If you have had a leader who made a profound, positive impact on your life, I would love to hear about it.

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