The No. 1 determinant of how people regard you as a leader—and how you regard yourself—is the way you behave day by day, according to Drew Dudley, the founder of Day One Leadership. Your daily behavior affects the way employees treat you and how they feel about the way you treat them.
“People feel the way they do about you, and how likely they want to follow you, based on how you behave on a day-to-day basis,” said Dudley in an AMA Edgewise podcast.
Dudley, the author of This Is Day One: A Practical Guide to Leadership That Matters (Hachette Books, 2018), noted that leadership is commonly viewed as a small, exclusionary club—one that many people think they cannot get into. But leadership is accessible to everyone through their behaviors.
“We all start in the morning of every day at the same place when it comes to leadership. You have done nothing to earn the title when you get out of bed—nothing,” he said. “So all of us are at the same place. Whether or not we get to call ourselves a leader that day has everything to do with how we behave that day.”
Embedding leadership behaviors
Dudley believes that people need to plan, execute, and evaluate their leadership on a daily basis, not by taking stock of the titles and money they earn over time.
In the podcast, Dudley said that a leader must identify and execute on the “nonnegotiable behaviors” he or she wants to display every day. He suggested this exercise to get started: Imagine that you can go back to Day One as a manager—knowing everything you know now—and build yourself into the leader or person you want to be. “What would be the nonnegotiable behaviors that you would embed into your life every single day?” he asked.
These leadership behaviors should be tied to your core values, Dudley added. His own core values, for example, are impact, courage, growth, empowerment, class, and self-respect. The values you identify and the leadership behaviors that are consistent with them should be a part of your daily life, and you can evaluate yourself as a leader in relation to those values.
When people choose every day to make the world a better place, Dudley said, that’s leadership. “And when you layer those days one on top of the other, all the things we’re taught are goals in our life—money, titles, respect, and prestige—those are the natural byproducts of consistent, values-based behaviors,” he said.
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