Mastering Leadership

We’ve all come across them. Those leaders who people naturally gravitate towards. Though it seems counterintuitive, the magnetic effect these leaders have on people is not because of how people feel about the leader. It’s because of how the leader makes makes people feel about themselves.

Effective leaders also use psychology to understand and motivate others. As you ascend to positions of greater power and responsibility, you’ll increasingly rely on social and emotional intelligence.

Know Yourself Well

Knowing yourself, and knowing the forces that affect the people who work for you, holds the key to being a successful leader. The very character traits that peg you as a high-potential leader may also prevent you from making it to the finish line. Every strength has a downside when carried to the extreme. Self-awareness can prevent self-sabotage. You probably have a sense of your personal talents and liabilities. Learning how to leverage them at work, amplifying your strengths, while minimizing your weaknesses, sets the stage for good interpersonal relationships. You’ll become less vulnerable and sensitive to criticism. You’ll also learn more about your leadership constitution:

•Do you have the drive, personality and desire necessary to shouldering executive responsibilities?

•Can you cope with the associated stressors and the job’s highs and lows?

Even the strongest, most talented leaders have flaws. Each of us is driven by conscious and unconscious forces that must be channeled into positive outcomes, so it’s important to see personal development opportunities at every stage of your career.

Lead Through Engagement

In an engaged workforce, people want to come to work. They understand their jobs and appreciate how their specific responsibilities contribute to the organization’s overall success.

An effective leader builds integrated teams: knowledge “communities” whose members work together creatively to achieve the desired result. If you expect your people to back initiatives with focus and enthusiasm, develop these five essential skills:

  • Maintain your focus – Don’t lose sight of your personal and organizational goals as you face the everyday onslaught of complex information and technology.
  • Maintain your values and integrity – Regularly assess whether you’ve strayed from personal and organizational values.
  • Understand your People’s expectations – Subordinates have expectations from important parental figures, including their bosses. They count on your love, support and approval. Understanding these desires makes you a better leader, especially when expectations become irrational.
  • Serve as a role model – Everything you say and do is magnified and interpreted, often in unintended ways. Your communication and behavior carry weight, influence others. Employees want to know that you love your work and appreciate their contributions. They closely watch how you handle challenges and achievements and they will mirror your behavior.

Manage Emotions

For decades, business experts discouraged emotional expressions at work. These days, we know it’s impossible to ignore or suppress them.

We want to be liked, appreciated, rewarded and respected. We need friendships at work, some level of closeness and affection. We thrive in a work environment that allows us to safely express our opinions and feelings, including our aggressions.

If you expect your people to put aside their emotions and “just do the work,” you’re failing as a manager. Emotions are a fundamental part of what makes us human.

Regardless of your industry, you’ll encounter three common emotional needs at work:

  • Attachment and connection – Some people’s social needs are minimal, while others are more pronounced. Some prefer to work alone, viewing social interactions as obstacles to productivity. At the other end of the continuum are people who never want to be alone. Be sensitive to people’s basic needs.
  • Dependency, independency and interdependency – People depend on others for approval, validation and love. Even when these needs are satisfied outside the workplace, people seek to satisfy them at work. A good leader is sensitive to how much direction and interaction each employee needs to thrive at work.

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