THE BLOG
10/13/2014 10:18 am ET Updated Dec 13, 2014

Lead Yourself

One of the most discussed elements associated with employee performance and profit is great leadership. The various molds of a triumphant trailblazer that we have created throughout the last two or three decades promises a fictitious character that's meant to either appear as a new aspirant or an existing associate who's inundated with training courses, assessments and coaching until they're ready to heroically save the day!

While the skills, experience and competence of this Super Leader is important, placing too much emphasis on the custodian, without adequately addressing the behaviors, attitudes and competencies of the people they're leading, results in a narrow analysis and incomplete diagnosis of why a good leader might be doing a bad job.

It would be brilliant and so much easier if the company's success was mostly dependent on the vision and capabilities of the head, but it's not. How you manage your leader and yourself need to be considered as important influencing variables in order to holistically deepen the exploration of both the strengths and developmental needs of a particular company or department.

This dialectic relationship of employee and manager is often artificially separated through unrelated behaviors and expectations, rather than interconnected to highlight that success is not just dependent on one or the other, but it's more about the ebb and flow of reciprocation.

See, managers come and go and we don't have a say in who they are so waiting for them to morph into that perfect director is an impractical option. So focus inward and begin thinking about ways that you could better manage yourself to help your manger be better at his or her role.

These simple practical changes will demonstrate how you could raise the quality of leadership at your place of work by being more mindful of your own actions and mode of operation.

• Be yourself rather than a contrived version of who you think your boss wants you to be. That façade is likely to slip from time to time, making you seem duplicitous and unreliable.

• Never suffer in silence; communicate your concerns as and when they arise.

• When you think goals are unrealistic or unattainable, SPEAK UP.

• Ask for resources early on instead of waiting for the 11th hour to use not having something as an excuse for not delivering.

• Don't personalize comments and suggestions - professionalize.

• Seek clarification and ask as many questions as necessary. Often times managers may assume that we're all on the same page of understanding about a particular matter but that may not be the case so bring the ambiguity to his or her attention.

• Show interest and enthusiasm for learning from your director. Work isn't a classroom and he's not a teacher, but he can be a great mentor if he grasps how important growth and development is to you.

• Manage your moods. If you seem unstable and unpredictable, this may affect the quality and quantity of interaction your manager has with you.

• Develop an effective level of self-awareness about who you are and share those personality nuances. So for example, if you know you're more of an introvert, discuss the different ways an introvert thinks and works so that your boss doesn't incorrectly assume you're shy or uninterested.

• Don't give up easily. If imaginative suggestions and ideas are not accepted or implemented, doesn't mean they never will be. So don't let your creative and critical thinking abilities be dampened by a few 'not now's.'

• Don't gossip behind his back. Eventually an uglier and more exaggerated version of your comments will reach your boss, affecting your association negatively.

• Reflect on policies and procedures, occasionally questioning the effectiveness of how things are done. Just because 'its just how we do things around here' doesn't mean it's the best or most suitable approach. You may need to bring that glitch to the attention of your director, rather than wait for her to discover the problem.

• When feeling disappointed and deflated about something she's done, remind yourself of all her good qualities and achievements. Destructive thinking traps may linger longer than necessary, wreaking havoc on your interaction unintentionally and indirectly.

• Don't over promise just because you want to please.

• Don't be defensive when receiving constructive criticism. Listen, learn and leverage the information to improve your performance.

• If you do decide to terminate your employment, share your grievances honestly about their leadership weaknesses.

• No two leaders are the same and theretofore their position doesn't define their who they are, their personality does. Get to know their characteristics better and what makes them content or cross so that you can adjust your behavior accordingly.

• Talk to your higher ups about what you've achieved - don't expect them to always know or remember.

• Motivate your boss by recognizing their positive actions and attributes. Reward shouldn't just be a top down practice.

So aside from powerful determinants such as empathy, emotional intelligence, predictability, foresight, great communication skills and charisma, a good leader usually has employees that manage and monitor their behavior and nurture traits to develop into more effective contributors of the company.

Remember, learning more results in living more...over to you.