I was interviewing one of the managers who reported to my seasoned middle-manager client (“Susan”), who was also relatively new to her current position. This was one of several interviews on her behalf that had included my client’s manager, peers, and direct reports. I had asked the current interviewee the usual questions about my client’s strengths, gaps and behavior, and as always, finished with a final wrap up question:
Me: “Is there anything else you’d like for me and Susan to know about?” (I’d indicated to this manager that comments would be provided to Susan in a report, without names or identifiers. Knowing this, I expect interviewees to feel relatively comfortable telling me anything they think is relevant).
Client’s Direct Report: “She makes me a better leader, manager, and person. She doesn’t do this by saying anything specific, but her behaviors let me know that she believes I am fully capable and able to do my best.”
One thing I’ve noticed is that opinions of a new leader form quickly. Susan had been in her position for about six months. She had made a positive impact through her actions with every person I spoke to. She was not one to “toot her own horn” and promise things she couldn’t follow through on, yet she was fully confident in her ability to lead through her actions. That confidence came through in her belief that others will rise to their best.
Susan was given the highest compliment a leader could receive, reinforcing how important her actions are; she makes others better.
Pay attention to your actions. Are they speaking louder than your words?