Ever since I was a little kid I have been guilty of taking a hard (but brief) judgmental head to toe look of people I meet. I don’t have a good reason for this behavior and can’t even pinpoint what I am looking for. At one point I didn’t even know I was doing it until it was brought to my attention by others. What’s interesting is, I still can’t seem to stop. I have come to the conclusion that it’s because we are all hardwired to judge whether we like it or not.
We are constantly judging what people do, say, or even what they wear - even if we don’t verbalize our thoughts.
The same is true in judging someone’s ability to lead. No one wants to follow someone blindly. They go through a mental process, whether they know it or not, to pass judgement on whether they want to follow or continue to follow someone.
These are a few simple behaviors that people look for to judge whether you are a leader worth following:
Most people just consider the words they say (or write). But don’t be fooled, people judge the tone in which you speak sometimes more than the words coming out of your mouth. Regardless of the situation, event, or scenario, the tone in which you convey is a massive part in how you are judged.
Just this week on the Follow My Lead Podcast, Dr. Shane Ferch said something that hit me like a brick wall, “It requires great discipline to live from a depth of humility and gratitude.” He is exactly right. People look at discipline in many forms, but people can judge your discipline based on the health of your marriage, the relationship you have with your kids, fitness choices, how many hours you work, or your commitment when you are working. All of these are signs of your discipline as a human being.
No one is always right, but some people don’t seem to ever be wrong. How many times have you spoken with someone who was definitely wrong, but know that that person would never admit it. In many cases they might just keep digging a deeper hole. People judge those who are unable or unwilling to admit error, and it’s always unfavorable to the person. People can handle the truth and are accepting of errors and mistakes because we are all human. If you are able to admit when you are wrong and offer an apology, you will be judged in a positive light.
Leadership expert Will Sparks says when the heat is on, the shadow of a leader comes out and that means we turn to thoughts, actions, or behaviors that are counterintuitive or unproductive. For some leaders that might be feeling like they are “right,” being arrogant, being outspoken or sarcastic to mask fear. It could be as simple as losing that optimistic attitude that good leaders maintain even the face of a difficult situation. People aren’t dumb, they know when teams or organizations are faced with tough situations. Trust me when I tell you, they are looking if you have a positive “fight” mentality or a negative “flight” mentality.
Most of us have a problem with attention and being present. When someone else is talking or trying to communicate something with you and you’re not attentive, it’s an instant turnoff. It comes across as though you only care about what you have going on in your world and not theirs. If you are able to commit your attention to someone fully when they are talking, they will pass a favorable judgement. This one hits particularly home to me, because it’s one of my own personal weaknesses…. Wait what was I saying?
Hopefully you can put yourself in these situations and think about your behavior in each one. If you think you aren’t doing your best in any of them, make a judgement call and change your behavior.
I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes that all leaders should remember. As you envision your future, remember, deciding where you will be remains secondary to deciding who you will be whether you get there or not.
John is the CEO of LearnLoft, author of, F.M.L. Standing Out & Being a Leader and host of the 'Follow My Lead' Podcast. He writes or has been featured on Inc.com, LinkedIn Pulse, TrainingIndustry.com, eLearningIndustry.com, CNBC Money, and more. John completed his education at the University of Maryland College.