The holidays are over, and everyone has finished indulging. Hopefully, this was indulging in family time and not excess sweets. Perhaps it was in the blessing of giving to others, or maybe just some much needed time off. Maybe it was just some time to recharge since 2022 was quite the year. It was returning from Covid, getting “back to work” and “back to school” and somewhat back to normal. Will we ever fully return to normal? Are there things about the workplace that are going to be a permanent change? Do you think that we learned enough in 2022 to better understand each other, and to have more compassion, or do you think people went the other direction? Did we become too reliant upon the idea that we could blame the pandemic for delays, long lead times, poor attendance, mistakes, or extra costs?
If you look at our leaders in government today, it appears to me that it is the latter…that regardless of your political affiliation, the “leaders” in government were all too quick to blame covid, the pandemic, or the general public and try to leverage the situation to their advantage. I think everyone might have done this to some degree. With the stress of the pandemic, and now returning to work/school, it's only natural that people still tried to leverage this position. Was it really the pandemic, or was it just a convenient excuse?
If you have followed my other blogs on leadership, you are familiar with the acronym JJDIDTIEBUCKLE
. Those are the 14 leadership traits instilled in all Marines during basic training and throughout their career. Although most are below the legal drinking age, these traits guide them as they are put in charge of dozens of Marines and hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions of dollars’ worth of equipment. They are the leadership traits that were identified to help build and guide the best leaders. The two traits we are going to talk about today are Integrity and Enthusiasm. These two traits I feel are very important to the topics we outlined above.J
Integrity: A Trait that Needs to be Proven
in·teg·ri·tyThe quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness."He is known to be a man of integrity"
I think to answer the question, “are people making excuses or trying to leverage an unfortunate situation for their gain?” you have to ask yourself… do you trust that person’s integrity?
“If you want to be a good leader, integrity might be one of, if not the most important leadership traits.
Without it, many of the other traits become irrelevant. ”
Integrity implies trustworthiness and incorruptibility to the degree that one cannot be false to trust. Can others trust your judgment or dependability? Can they trust you to take the initiative to lead them with decisiveness and tact? To me, this is more than just a word or leadership trait. It truly is a methodology. A leader cannot choose to have integrity in one moment and then sacrifice their integrity in the next. Because it truly is a mindset or philosophy, it cannot be turned on and off like a light switch. It is something that has to be believed in, supported, and practiced on a regular basis, something that needs to be proven over and over again, especially in difficult times or in difficult situations. The tougher the situation, the more challenging it can be to have integrity.
When a parent of a student is asking tough questions of the administration, and the answer will not be what they want to hear. Will you have integrity, or try to placate them? Worse yet, when you know that you or your team made an error, will you have the integrity to admit the mistake? Will you be able to hold your team and yourself accountable for the error and admit fault?
Integrity goes both ways. Not only is it a trait you need to possess as a leader, but you must be able to identify it in those around you. I encourage you to look at the leaders around you and ask yourself if they have integrity themselves. If you struggle to trust your leader or your team, ask yourself why? Why is it that you don’t trust them? Do they have integrity? Look for integrity in your team and use that to help your leadership style by being more trusting of their work. Knowing if they have integrity will help you delegate work to them and trust the information they provide. This will help you avoid micromanaging a situation. Conversely, if you determine somebody lacks integrity, use it as a learning opportunity to explain why their lack of integrity has hurt the working relationship. Set goals and ways in which they could act with more integrity and earn your trust and respect.
Much like physical integrity, – the state of being Whole and Undivided – having integrity in your words and actions means that you are unwavering in your trustworthiness, responsibility or the pledge you took to do your job to the best of your abilities. There is no room when you are “undivided” to have integrity some of the time, and then choose to take the easy path other times. This is why I believe Integrity is the most important of all of the leadership traits.
Learn How to Control Your Enthusiasm
Enthusiasm is more of a tricky leadership trait. It must be used judiciously because it is a trait that can be seen through different lenses. You must understand the different personality types of the people on your team. Are they data/facts driven? Are they a person that is rooted in compassion and emotions? Is the process or plan you are trying to implement data driven, or is it to help ease a stressful or emotional situation? These important factors will help you determine how much and what type of enthusiasm you should be using.
“There are many ways to express your enthusiasm,
and you must find the way that is best suited for you and your leadership style.”
It can be expressed verbally through your word selection. Finding words that create excitement and are thrilling can be done in person or through writing. The struggle with expressing enthusiasm in a written form is that you are limited to only using your words. Enthusiasm can also be achieved through tone and inflection, so when delivering a new process or plan, perhaps consider presenting it in person, or via zoom. Select a form of media where you can use more than just your choice of vernacular to demonstrate your excitement. In addition to verbal cues, it is important to demonstrate enthusiasm to your team physically. Be a leader that sits proud and tall, smiling and working hard and efficiently. It is also important to maintain good eye contact, especially with the individuals you struggle to motivate the most.
Enthusiasm shows a belief in one’s decisions, the process, or the team. Without it, many will find it hard to follow. Without enthusiasm, a leader can come off as unsure, lacking confidence, or not believing in the plan or process. If there is doubt in a leader, there is room for dissension or mutiny among the team. This is when you see evidence of the 80/20 rule, when 80% of the work is being performed by 20% of your team. Enthusiasm can help you avoid those situations by garnering support for your purpose.
Having enthusiasm is wonderful, but controlling it is necessary. You could be seen as having toxic positivity if you are too excitable. Many pragmatic people are turned off by this and could view you as over-emotional or even irrational and will shut down as a result. They could even label you as being unknowledgeable or disingenuous. They are the people that are looking for data and facts. They are pragmatic workers or leaders that are results-oriented and might only need a little enthusiasm so long as they believe in the goal or end result. If you have team members that are that type, I would use enthusiasm to present your data and facts and let the information be the driving force behind your decisions and plan. Make the goal and getting across the finish line the target of your enthusiasm. Therefore, it is important to know and understand the dynamics of the leaders and the people on your team. This is what makes enthusiasm one of the more challenging leadership traits to master and why it can affect individuals on your team differently.
While all 14 leadership traits have importance and meaning, it is the balance of utilization and the way in which they are used in conjunction with each other that makes a successful leader. It is about knowing when and how to use each trait effectively. Leadership is a skill that is learned. For some, it comes naturally; for others, it is a skill that must be practiced. By using the leadership traits as tools in your toolbox, you will be able to hone your skills and become a stronger leader. Always remember to solicit feedback through an after-action report or with casual conversations with your team. Do this, and you will be well on your way to improving your leadership abilities. Many of the other traits are useless without Integrity, and it is hard to accomplish monumental tasks without some form of enthusiasm, so be sure to include these two in your repertoire.
By Stephen Chassee
Green Associates, Inc.
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