Directional Influence

Many people are talking today about authentic leadership. We believe that most of what is being talked about relates to being an authentic leader. However, we at Fortis see most descriptions of authentic leadership do not nearly go deep enough to explain the true meaning of authentic leadership. The Fortis defined authentic leader is rare because he or she has an unselfish motivation to develop their team and make them as good if not better than themselves.

I personally believe this is the highest form of leadership. It demonstrates empathy, and yet demands excellence. It raises the bar, and then encourages, coaches and inspires others to dig inside themselves to accomplish the goal. This leader is steel wrapped in velvet and is not hampered by insecurity. He/she can be totally understanding and at the same time, totally demanding pouring himself or herself into the areas of deficit to insure the organization is successful without care for individual recognition. This leader is keenly aware of the people on his or her team that are unwilling to dig within themselves to rise to the level they expect, and can coach these individuals into positions either within or outside the organization that are more aligned with their skill sets. However, these leaders see their role to develop people around them, and this type of development can be to their direct reports, to their colleagues and even to those they work for. At it’s pinnacle this form of leadership influences other organizations outside of their own company that have interacted with him or her only on a very minimal basis. This is what I call directional leadership.

The first direction of influence is down into your team. Influencing down can be very straightforward. Although there are several things we outline in our formal training, there is one very straightforward way to influence your team. Simply taking time to evaluate them at the formal review coupled with ongoing reviews throughout the year to insure progress towards development shows that the leader cares and is not just “going through the motions“. This simple task is the absolute minimum any leader should do to win the trust of their team.

The next direction of influence is up. Yes there is a need for upward influence. Sometimes there are cases when a leader arrives in an organization and soon realizes he or she has more developed leadership skills than the one they report to. Every seasoned leader realizes that we all have our areas of weakness, areas we are developing. What do you do when you see clearly that your manager has a huge blind spot? Influencing and encouraging your leader in his or her development of a weak area is actually not that much more challenging than influencing your subordinates. Before you can impact your leader, however you need to first earn his or her trust. This is a process and requires patience. There are several things we at Fortis outline to building a healthy organization and how this relates to helping your leaders achieve success, however one critical piece of this is displaying the character and quality of honor in that you never and I mean NEVER speak negatively about your manager to your peers or those that you lead. Your manager knows who the people are on their team that they can trust, and who they can’t. A manager’s survival depends on it. Never lower yourself to gossip about your leader. Through time, your consistent positive attitude, honorable character and your track record of results will earn the respect of your manager and will create circumstances where your opinion is sought after in areas where your manager is weak.

Finally there is the lateral direction of leadership. When you are an authentic leader you will be inspiring many outside of your direct sphere of influence. They will see your passion and your character and will begin to take on your strengths.

As a Fortis trained leader, you will be able to influence up, down and sideways. With an organization of Fortis leaders, your organization will take on a synergy that creates a passionate environment that will harnesses the strengths of every individual without the negative influence of politics and distrust.

Harness your strengths. Redefine your limits!

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