What employees wonder about your leadership

bossHere are some of the questions your people are asking as they assess your leadership style, roughly in this order of importance:

Are you real? Do you have integrity? Can they trust you? Finding out whether leaders are “for real” is another way of deciding whether it’s possible to have an honest relationship with them.

Do you care? About the enterprise, the team, its members and the work they do, or just about your own job? Employees will overlook a lot of shortcomings in communication and people skills if leaders come across as being truly committed to the success of the team and its members.

Will you level with me? Will you not only “be real” and tell the truth, but the whole truth—about what you think, about the quality of work, about an employee’s future prospects? A reputation for not telling the truth is almost impossible to turn around, but employees are also intolerant of leaders who water down their opinions or express them differently to different people.

Will you listen? Employees don’t expect leaders to agree with them every time. But they do expect a fair hearing on every work-related matter they bring up. If they don’t get it, they’re quick to conclude there’s a problem with your leadership style.

Are you treating me fairly? This is not equivalent to “treating everyone the same,” no matter how many times you’re told to do so by experts or your own manager. Employees are more concerned with whether your actions are fair, first to them and then to everyone else.

Do you follow through? Will you do what you say, carry the team’s concerns to management, get answers to their questions, and make good on your commitments? Your employees are counting on you to represent them and be their advocates.

Are you focused on the positive? Too many leaders think this is the most important factor in projecting a good leadership style. But you can be happy and positive in your day-to-day actions as a leader and still leave your employees feeling cold—if you haven’t convinced them of your integrity, honesty, fairness and reliability.

The power of fairness

If you’re consistently fair, you can be difficult to please and hard to get along with and still be respected.