Anyone can become a good leader, it’s up to you to take the first step!
When it comes to leadership, it is always best to talk to an expert, that expert being Marie Dye. Marie is a part-time lecturer and a licensed coach, with experience teaching courses at Rutgers University, Kean University, Montclair State University and Union County College. Her courses revolve around leadership, interpersonal communication, group communication, and public speaking. Marie has earned an International Coach Federation (ICF) certification in Leadership Coaching for Organizational Performance from Rutgers University; a Master of Arts in Strategic Communication and Leadership from Seton Hall University, a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from Kean University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. It is clear, Marie is passionate about both education and leadership!
Marie fell into this line of work from her desire to help both herself and other people communicate better, at work and within their personal relationships. In her early career, Marie’s work had been in a variety of different roles where she was serving and connecting with people, whether it be in customer service, banking, or social work. Marie quickly discovered that she wanted to learn how to communicate better, capture a person’s attention, and clearly get her message across. This was especially tied to her work at Bank of New York, when she was tasked with leading and navigating difficult conversations with those much older than herself. Specifically, Marie was asked to terminate someone, an experience that taught her the power of leadership and the responsibilities that follow suit. To Marie, good leaders are self aware, they understand the importance of perception management, and identify the needs of the people around them. “We communicate to get our needs met,” says Marie, whose passion for understanding the subject has been the pursuit of her career.
Marie breaks down four important factors that contribute to effective leadership that everyone can benefit from, including servant leadership, having a compelling vision, cultivating a positive organizational culture, and embracing individual identity. If you are interested in becoming an effective compelling leader, keep reading!
Marie notes that it wasn’t until her time at Seton Hall University that she really began to understand that leadership is not just about your name and title, but rather what you do to develop others. This is better known as servant leadership, an important aspect of effective leadership. Marie says that it is important for good leaders to be curious about the people they are leading in order to support them as they work towards mobilizing the team to achieve their goals. There is no trickery or manipulation necessary. The overarching goal is to lead others so that they grow and develop as individuals and emerging leaders. Marie believes it is important that everyone feels seen, valued and heard, because this creates a culture where everyone wants to bring their best to the table.
Bottom line: You have to value the people around you. Be genuinely interested in who they are and what they care about. Supporting them to be their best. Building a strong community will gain their respect and their commitment to your compelling vision. Remember a worker bee won’t go the extra mile for you or your company, but the soldier in the trenches will when their captain believes in them and is right beside them.
This brings us to Marie’s second point in being a good leader, which is having and communicating a compelling vision. Leadership is about influence and people follow those who influence them, whether it be a pastor, social media influencer, or sports superstar. The leader’s job is to understand what the people value so they know what motivates them. It is also in the best interest of the leader to communicate their own beliefs, values and goals. A leader’s vision becomes compelling when it aligns with their followers values and beliefs. Followers need to understand their leader’s motivations and how their efforts play a part in achieving the leader’s goals and the overall vision. Part of achieving a compelling vision is treating people equally and creating partnerships in leadership and the outcome.
Bottom Line: Leadership is not about telling someone what to do, it is more about being in community with the people you lead and creating a vision that people feel aligned with.
Positive Organizational Culture
Almost one hundred percent of the time, culture is determined by who is leading it. It is the leader’s fault if the organizational culture is bad- to put a fine point on it. The culture determines how people feel, if they are heard, and if they feel valued.
Here are some examples:
In a negative or toxic culture, everyone is fearful, everyone watches their own back, secretly wishing the organization or leadership will fail. There is a distaste for change and no innovation, new ideas, or growth occur.
On the other hand, when you have a good culture, there is an overwhelming feeling of safety, innovation is welcome from everyone down to the janitor, and everyone brings value. No one desires to leave, people are growing and getting better positions- hey, they even want to work late! These people will carry you through the crisis, they will not abandon or sell you out because there is a tremendous sense of community.
Bottom Line: The leader affects the culture and the culture affects the people. Leaders are at the heart of employee motivation and the dependency of company or team success.
Embracing Individual Identity
Research shows that there are certain attributes that effective leaders have, yet there is also substantial evidence that leadership can be taught to anyone; everyone has the potential to become an effective leader. The first step in becoming a leader is knowing who you are and discovering your individual style of leadership- there is no one size fits all! Servant leadership is the basic premise, but your own style of leadership is based on your specific personality, skills, and qualities.
A trend that Marie sees in those she coaches on how to lead are that they are trying to lead in a way that they think people are supposed to act or behave. Most people aren’t clear about who they are and what their leadership style is. It all starts with the most simple, yet complex questions. Who am I?
Bottom Line: Developing and nurturing your leadership style is something most people have never had to think about before. Leadership is not what you see on television, it’s see inside! Marie emphasizes the fact that leaders must be transparent and honest about who they are on the inside.
So what is your style of leadership and how can you develop it?
You can start by asking yourself these questions and jotting down your responses as a quick start:
- What are your objectives and goals?
- We communicate to meet our needs, consider what your needs are and how do you feel most comfortable communicating them?
- When have you communicated effectively in the past? Why were you successful? When have you communicated and it hasn’t worked? Why were you not successful?
- Think about a time when you did not communicate effectively. Why were you not successful? What would you change?
- Review your communication style and remember listening is part of communication! Are you a listener or talker, how do you process information? How do the people that you lead communicate and process information?
Taking it a step further? There is also a series of personality tests that you can take, such as 360 leadership assessment, Myers Briggs, and Strengths Finder. Marie recommends, however, to layer these assessments and take more than one. Basically, build a file on yourself! Take the assessment on your own or find a certified coach to work with.
Bottom Line: Find your strengths and capitalize on them when practicing leadership.
You never know, you might even be surprised about what you learn about yourself as you lead others.