People don’t work for companies; they work for people–namely, their bosses. In a recent employee report done by workforce engagement software provider TinyPulse, 1,000 working Americans were asked what one thing they wished they could change about their manager, and the second most popular answer was to have their manager quit. Ouch.
“We know that people don’t leave companies; they leave their bosses. If you want to attract talent that will stick around, then you’ll want to do whatever it takes to increase your magnetism,” says Roberta Chinsky Matuson, leadership consultant and author of The Magnetic Leader: How Irresistible Leaders Attract Employees, Customers, and Profits.
A magnetic leader is someone who attracts and retains great talent. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to work for a magnetic leader, then you know how much of an impact he or she can make on your productivity, attitude, and engagement, says Chinsky Matuson. “When he or she asks you to do something, you do it,” she says. “You’ll follow this person to the ends of the earth or to their next job.”
While a handful of leaders are born magnetic, the good news for the rest of us is that this type of leadership can be taught, but you’ll most likely have to teach yourself. “Most managers these days are tossed into management with little more than a prayer,” she says. “Management training programs went the way of full reimbursement for health care premiums. You have to invest in yourself and do the work that’s required to make this transformation.”
Here are the three traits magnetic leaders have in common, and how you can learn to possess them, too, says Chinsky Matuson:
Magnetic leaders don’t try to be someone else, nor do they change who they are based on office politics, says Chinsky Matuson. “They are true to themselves and are honest in their dealings with others,” she says. “They are not afraid to share their mistakes or shortcomings.”
To bring an authentic and trustworthy leader, you need to be truthful. That can take courage, but it’s worth it. A 2017 Trust Barometer survey done by the PR firm Edelman found that trust in CEOs in the U.S. has reach an all-time low.
Be willing to admit that you don’t know everything. “The people you oversee deserve the truth from you, including the fact that you are also a work in progress,” says Chinsky Matuson.
It also helps to share your backstory, such as your professional journey and history with your company. “We tend to look at people who have risen to a certain stature in their careers and forget they weren’t always at the top of the food chain,” adds Chinsky Matuson. “Sharing your backstory is a way for leaders to make a deep connection with their people, which can lead to a more trusting relationship.”
Visionary leaders are the dreamers who make us realize anything is possible, says Chinsky Matuson. “They have a vivid imagination that inspires others to get on board and come along for the ride,” she says. “Instead of asking the question, ‘Why?’ they ask, ‘Why not?’”
To assess where you are on the visionary scale, ask yourself these three questions:
- Am I focused on everyday tasks or long-term outcomes?
- How often do I take time out of my day or week to think about the future?
- Who in the organization has potential that is not being realized, and what can I do to help unleash it?
Your answers will help you realize in which areas your vision may be lacking. Then plan to correct it by reassessing your schedule and reevaluating your team.
Leadership is a service business, and service comes with sacrifice, says Chinsky Matuson. “Magnetic leaders put the needs of their people in front of their own,” she says. “And who wouldn’t find that irresistible?”
To become more selfless, ask yourself these three questions:
- Are people following me because of what I can do for them, or are they doing so because of what I can do to them?
- Do I take more than I give?
- What have I done today to put others before myself?
Being selfless requires you to shift your mind-set, and it’s one of the hardest things you’ll do as a leader, says Chinsky Matuson. “It’s human nature to take the quickest path to fame and fortune,” she says. “Think for a moment about what you’d like your legacy to be. Do you want to be known as the person who served his people well, or would you prefer to be remembered as that crappy, selfish boss a former employee is now writing a book about?”
Then focus on your employees’ concerns. “[You] also have to give more consideration as to how they can help their people achieve their hopes and dreams, and be willing to do what it takes to make this so,” says Chinsky Matuson.