"For a while I loved the role, and did some of my best work. But my CEO was unreadable, and over time, I just lost interest." -High-potential / high-performing exec who jumped ship to a competitor.
Being "readable" is better leadership, and enables greater achievements, than unreadable. If people can read you--what's important to you and why, what fires you up and what kicks you in the butt--they can figure out the all-important WHY they should give 100% or more to YOUR vision, versus their own or that of someone else, over the long haul.
Yet like poker players, many executives are unreadable to those around them. Deliberately or unconsciously, they keep their hopes and fears, and how they think and feel about things under wraps until who knows what and why. There are those too who ask you a question, you answer it, and they give no feedback about your answer. An absence of further discussion and/or another question is the only signal. Huh. I guess we’re done with that topic.
With such a leader, as you deliver work, it’s puzzling as to where you stand, or why one thing works and another doesn’t. It’s almost as if they are issuing a challenge—daring you to solve the puzzle. I don’t know about you, but that’s a sure way to shut down the power to my self-motivation. Lights off.
As Bob Anderson’s work with the Leadership Circle has shown, keeping yourself distant is a reactive, rather than creative, leadership strategy, one that detracts from an ability to deliver results.
That's why it's important to take a good look at your own “readability index.” Try your hand--answer the following questions:
1. Level from one to ten, one being “an open book” and ten being “enigmatic / very hard to read,” what would those who’ve worked with you for less than a year say about YOU in answer to the question, “How hard is s/he to read?”
2. Level from one to ten, one being “trust is completely relational” to ten being “trust is completely situational” which of the two-relationship or situation, do you weight more strongly in granting enough trust to open up to someone?
3. Level from one to ten, one being completely extroverted to ten being completely introverted, how do others most often describe you?
4. Level from one to ten, one being “an asset” to ten being “a liability,” how would you characterize readability as a leadership trait?
5. Level from one to ten, one being “very easy” to ten being “very difficult,” how would you describe your level of comfort letting people get to know your more meaningful thoughts, wants, and feelings?
Put your numbers down in "draft." NOW, make sure to ask someone you trust for their opinion on how you’ve scored yourself. Be open-minded, and make lots of notes (and reflect later) on your discussion, as some of this may reside in your blind spot. Once you reconcile with them about the numbers, add them up, multiply by two, and you’ll see yourself on a scale from 100 (completely unreadable) to 0 (completely readable.)
Based on that, determine (and ask your helper) what steps might help you allow yourself to be more easily known and read by others.