Why the Best Leaders Can Be Boring
This DATIS Blog Article, “Why the Best Leaders Can Be Boring”, was originally posted by Kevin Eikenberry, Leadership & Learning with Kevin Eikenberry, on October 3rd, 2016 and was reposted with permission.
If I asked you to make a list of adjectives to describe great leaders, you would come up with a list with little trouble. But I highly doubt you would put “boring” on that list. In fact, you might have words on your list that are antonyms (or nearly so) to the word boring.
Not only that, if you are like me, you don’t really want to be thought of as boring either. Yet I still believe that we as leaders should in at least some ways strive to be boring. Here is what I mean.
We want a leader who is . . .
Emotionally stable. We all want to be led by someone who can manage their emotions. Since people take cues from their leaders, if we have big emotional swings, we will begin to create those same swings in emotions, attitude and productivity in our teams. If we get angry and give “feedback” from that emotionally charged state, we know that isn’t usually very helpful to the performance or the relationship.
How successful are you at maintaining your emotions in a way that aids your team?
Willing to agree. We want leaders who can be decisive and are intelligent, but we also want leaders who are willing to listen to our opinions, take them into account and at least some times change their perspective and go with our suggestions. Being agreeable is a worthy leadership trait.
How willing are you to listen to your team and change your opinion to support their perspective?
Consistent. The best leaders lead from a set of principles and values that make them consistent in their message and their direction. The best leaders know the direction they are heading and communicate that regularly and consistently. Leading towards that consistent, clear destination is as important for us as a leader as it is for those that we lead.
How clear are your principles and values and how do they guide your behavior as a leader?
Predictable. Don’t you want to be led by someone that doesn’t surprise you all the time? Predictability in certain situations might be boring, but it is a useful behavior for us as leaders. This could be in small things like when we will be at work in the morning, to how we will respond to certain types of requests all the way up to how we will react to a crisis or major problem.
How predictable would your team see you in situations that occur regularly?
Grounded. The best leaders are grounded by the values mentioned above, but they are also grounded by a healthy sense of self. No one wants to be led by an egomaniac, nor by someone with an unhealthily low self-image either. When we are grounded, we are likely more self-aware and this combination of factors helps create all of the other behaviors on this list.
How grounded and comfortable are you in your role as a leader?
I’m guessing you would agree with that list above, and that you would also say those words individually could look a bit, well, boring. Perhaps the list above helps you feel better and more confident that you can lead, because you display many of those attributes. Or perhaps one or more of those attributes above give you pause to reflect on how you could improve in that area.
Either way I hope this has been helpful to you. I wish you great success in applying the ideas shared here.
Go ahead, be a bit boring.