You might have formal authority, but do you have “legitimacy?”
Legitimacy is one of the things that separates a good leader from an exceptionally effective one.
As per a recent article in Harvard Business Review:
“A legitimate leader engenders good will and a feeling of personal connection with followers. . . (Leaders) who enjoy legitimacy can motivate loyalty and inspire confidence. They can mobilize others to rise beyond minimum job requirements and give it their all.”
That’s a powerful statement! What can you do to build your legitimacy? Here are seven behaviors suggested by the article.
*Behave with Integrity. Be honest in all of your dealings with everyone. Respect all people. Tell the truth with candor. This single behavior will go a long way to building your legitimacy.
*Focus on Sense of Purpose. Why are we here and what difference do we want to make? Make this your singular focus. Check out this blog on the great book, Leading with Noble Purpose to learn more about this.
*Put the Organization Above Yourself. This job is not about you – how you look or how you are perceived. Don’t let your ego get confused about that.
*Show Authenticity. If you make mistakes – and you will – own them. Seek feedback from others. Don’t pretend to be perfect. Show people that you want to improve.
*Communicate Clearly. Communicate with purpose. Connect your plans and activities to mission. Don’t use jargon. Talk straight.
*Demonstrate Fairness. Don’t get wrapped up in politics. Be just and caring in the decisions you need to make. Be sure to get input from a broad set of stakeholders.
*Stay Grounded. Stay humble and approachable. Yes, you are busy – but so is everyone else. Make time to meet with people from across the organization. You are not so cool that you do not have time to do that.
It is especially powerful when you can exhibit these behaviors from Day #1 on your job. You can build on them no matter how many years you have been in your current position – it just may take more time to change your reputation in certain areas.
If you are fortunate enough to experience some success in your role, especially remember to Stay Grounded. Don’t let success give you a big head. If you do, it will undermine all of the work you have done up to this point.
*Ideas for this blog taken from: Nohria, N. “How New CEOs Establish Legitimacy,” Harvard Business Review online, June 7, 2023.