Leadership #PeopleSkills: How to Spot Fake Zeal

Leadership People Skills: Can You Spot Fake Zeal?

Leaders, it’s an important question because engaged zealous teams create success.

Fake zeal gives power to hidden resistance, weakens team trust, and can disillusion people on the value of passion. 

So how can you tell if zeal is real?  Here are some leadership people skills secrets from years of lessons learned.

Leadership People Skills: Image is 2+2=5.

Leadership People Skills: How to Know if Zeal Is Real Image via Istock.

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Leadership People Skills: How to Spot Fake Zeal

First, define real zeal. When leaders ask me to help their teams be more zealous, I ask them to define zeal. Most respond with answers that in the end mean — sustained passion and accompanying action (for organizational success).

Using that definition, you can spot fake zeal by seeing what doesn’t add up.

  • Bursts of energy that fade fast.

    There is nothing wrong with people having bursts of energy. Many of us have them. Yet it isn’t real zeal. See it and value it for what it is without mistaking it as a sign of commitment. A burst of energy doesn’t add up to sustained passion. Continue to engage teams to develop true zeal.

  • Questions that demand perfection.

    Questions can be a sign of real zeal. Team members with true zeal ask questions that help overcome obstacles and innovate with possibilities. They are participating in leadership!

    Conversely, team members who want to stop progress ask questions that create obstacles and slow change. These questions demand that conditions be perfect else they can’t perform. These questions are actually statements of protest in disguise. It doesn’t add up to real zeal. One day I said to one of these team members, “You ask questions to stop change.” He replied, “Yes.”

  • Urgency for themselves not for others.

    Team members who are high performing individual achievers are often labelled zealous performers. Ask yourself as a leader, “Do they have sustained passion for the organization or just for their own careers?” Urgency for individual wins doesn’t necessarily add up to zealous teamwork for organizational success.

  • Cautious words with tentative actions.

    You hear, “I’ll do everything I can to support this” yet see only superficial action. Through experience I’ve come to learn that the cautious phrase is everything I can. They are not saying: “I will support this in every way”. Admittedly, not everyone who says I will do everything I can is hedging. Yet when you compare it to the lack of action, it doesn’t add up to real zeal.

  • Non-verbal clues.

    Body language communicates. There are many books that explain what each piece of body language means and rebuttals that say these generalizations are invalid. In any case, to read non-verbal clues you must first see them and learn what they mean over time.

    To spot if zeal is fake or real, interact face to face with your teams. Whether it’s through video-conference technology or being in the same place, face to face contact matters. Do not lead purely by phone and email.

  • Inconsistency in Behavior.

    Go one step further and get to know your team members well. You will come to know what behaviors do and don’t add up based on knowing them well. Family members do it, couples do it, and you can to.

    Leadership through people skills will give you the ability to spot inconsistencies in their behavior. You will be able to tell if their zeal is real!

Leadership people skills can ignite true zeal. Leadership people skills can also help you tell if team zeal is real.

Zeal doesn’t have to be loud and boisterous. It doesn’t always smile or agree.

Zeal does tackle tough challenges and ride over rough roads. It sustains in difficult moments. It innovates and creates. It always pulses with interest, passion, and commitment toward excellence and success.

Are your teams zealous enough to carry the organization to the heights of success? They can be. Let’s talk!

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™

Related Posts on Leadership Readiness:
Leading Change: Is the Beloved Bully Stopping You?
Leaders, Be Ready to Spot Controversy That Blocks Performance
Leaders, Are You Ready to Deliver Super Customer Experience?

©2013 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email info@katenasser.com. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

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