Posts Tagged ‘leaders’

Five Ways The Most Effective Leaders Manage Their Emotions

The best managers know how to keep their emotions in check and focus on building a healthy team.

Article submitted by guest author Harvey Deutschendorf

Five Ways The Most Effective Leaders Manage Their Emotions
[PHOTO: H. ARMSTRONG ROBERTS/CLASSICSTOCK/GETTY IMAGES]

Soft skills have garnered increasing attention in the workplace over the last 20 years. In fact, emotional intelligence is one of the fastest growing job skills, according to a report by the World Economic Forum.

Ironically, those are the very skills hiring managers say the latest crop of college graduates lacks as they’ve focused on honing their technological prowess. Yet managing our emotions effectively in the workplace is a major component of success for all of us.

Emotions running amok can damage those who work directly with us. Although employees may get away with an occasional lapse in emotional control, leaders are not afforded that leeway. A leader who is not managing his or her emotions well can wreak severe havoc on an organization, seriously damaging employee morale, retention, and ultimately the bottom line. Every reaction–positive or negative–will have consequences for all those who are under them and effect the overall success of the company.

Here are five ways effective leaders manage their emotions.

1. THEY KNOW WHEN AND HOW TO SHARE

It isn’t necessary or healthy for leaders to be unemotional robots and keep all their feelings inside. Effective leaders are able to use their emotions to connect with others through their ability to share the feelings that enhance relationships with their direct reports.

Whether an employee is feeling joy over a successful sales week or sadness over a family member passing, an effective leader is able to express emotions to let that person know they are connecting with them on a heart level.

While their emotions are under control, they know what to express and how much to let out in the circumstance. For example, if someone just lost a family member, the manager could express how they felt when they lost someone close to them and how good it felt to be supported. Then, they could ask the grieving person if they needed anything. Depending on the closeness of the relationship, they could put a hand on the person’s back or shoulder, or offer a hug.

2. THEY DO WHAT’S RIGHT INSTEAD OF WHAT’S POPULAR

There are many instances when leaders are tempted to make popular decisions as these will bring them instant feelings of relief from a pressing and difficult situation. However, effective managers overcome the urge to give in to what is popular and opt for what is right. This requires a great deal of self-confidence and courage.

If a particular unpopular employee was being subjected to ridicule and being ostracized, the manager could support that employee and confront his or her coworkers in order to stop the behavior. This may cause resentment from the offender, but it enforces the idea that bullying isn’t tolerated, and that’s more important for effective managers than being popular.

3. THEY TRUST THEIR INTUITION

When struggling with a decision, effective managers are able to tune into and use their gut instincts to make decisions, even though there may be compelling reasons for not doing so. That’s because they’ve relied on intuition in the past and trust it will be the best guide when there isn’t an obvious answer.

For example, they might make a decision to hire someone outside of the company who they feel would be a great fit instead of promoting someone from the inside who is popular, but doesn’t have the vision or initiative to take on the new role.

4. THEY ROUTINELY FIGHT APATHY, INERTIA, AND PROCRASTINATION

Ever have a day when you felt like doing very little, leaving things undone until later, or the next day? Perhaps you’re feeling tired, or just having a bad day or week. We’ve all had those days.

Leaders share this struggle but don’t have the luxury of giving in. Others depend on them to take action and get things done–even when they don’t they feel like it. They’ve disciplined themselves to do whatever it takes, regardless of how they feel. If they need to have a difficult conversation with an employee or customer, they’ll go through with it even if they’re tempted to put it off for another day.

5. THEY LOOK FOR SOLUTIONS, NOT SOMEONE TO BLAME

One of the easiest traps to fall into is to avoid responsibility when things aren’t going well. Poor leaders look for ways to shift the blame to others when things go wrong. It’s easier to avoid responsibility by pinning it on others or on outside circumstances–but that isn’t leadership.

Effective leaders immediately begin to look for solutions. They find out what went wrong to avoid the same problem in the future. They’re more interested in using the failure as a learning opportunity and moving on from it, rather than spending time and energy looking for scapegoats.

Often the reason for the problem is a breakdown in communication between leaders and those assisting them. Effective leaders find out where that happened and readily admit that their instructions may not have been clear enough.

This also creates an opportunity to reassure employees who are reluctant to admit they didn’t understand for fear of appearing stupid, and let them know their boss won’t think less of them for asking for clarification. It’s crucial for good managers not to show any signs of frustration if what they thought was a straightforward request wasn’t understood at first.

Effective leaders are acutely aware of their feelings and know their responsibilities toward staff, customers, and the organization. This isn’t easy–it takes effort. But they’ve worked on themselves to develop their abilities to keep their emotions in check when necessary and show them when the situation calls for it.

Are you a servant leader?

jackie robinsonArticle Contributed by Amy Sargent

Baseball great Jackie Robinson once said, “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” From the site baseballhall.org, we read this about the famed second baseman: “The impact Robinson made on Major League Baseball is one that will be forever remembered. On April 15 each season, every team in the majors celebrates Jackie Robinson Day in honor of when he truly broke the color barrier in baseball, becoming the first African-American player in the 20th century to take the field in the big leagues. He opened the door for many others and will forever be appreciated for his contribution to the game.”

How often do we stop to ponder how our life is impacting others (because it is) and more importantly, what kind of impact is it having?

Traditional leadership often refers to the accumulation and use of power to accomplish one’s goals. In contrast, a servant leader shares power and focuses on helping others achieve their goals.

Reflect for a moment on the person in your life who has been the most influential in shaping you to be who you are–someone who has possibly inspired you, empowered you, and/or led you well? Do you have that person’s face fixed in your mind? Now, what quality (qualities) do you most appreciate about him or her? I’m guessing it isn’t their amazing stash of wealth, their ability to dominate a meeting, or their knack for commanding everyone’s attention at any given moment.

I consulted Webster to see how he defines the word ‘servant’. Take a look at some of the specific words used in the definition (emphasis mine): servant | n. | One who serves, does services, voluntarily or on compulsion; a person employed by another for menial offices, or for labor, and is subject to his command; a person who labors or exerts himself for the benefit of another, his master or employer; a subordinate helper.

Serves…compulsion…menial…subject to command…labors for others’ benefit…subordinate helper….when I think of leading, I have to admit these are not the words that quickly come to mind, and they honestly are not that appealing. Yet a valuable competency of social and emotional intelligence is our ability to have a service orientation. John C. Maxwell, author, speaker, and founder of an international leadership development organization designed to help leaders, says it very poignantly:

 “True leadership must be for the benefit of the followers, not to enrich the leader.”

If that’s accurate, which I believe it is, then we need to figure out what this servant leadership thing really is.

What does it look like to be a servant leader? Leadership can take many shapes and forms, but those who naturally possess this ability to pilot others with a servant’s heart tend to be:

  • Good listeners. They tune into what their followers are saying (and not saying) and take action in response to what they hear.
  • Available. Servant leaders carve out time in their busy schedules to spend with their team members and readily offer their time and expertise.
  • Motivators. They are driven to help others succeed and know how to spur others to do so.
  • Encouragers. Those with a servant heart love to speak highly of others and build them up, both one-on-one and in public.
  • Satisfaction Seekers (for others). These leaders actively search for ways to increase their teams’ satisfaction and engagement levels.
  • Helpers. Servant leaders actually like helping others reach their goals more than they enjoy achieving their own.
  • Blame Holders. They refuse to ‘pass-the-buck’, and will take a hit for their teams if needed.
  • Overachievers. Servant leaders are willing to go above and beyond what is expected for the benefit of others.
  • Forgetful. These leaders make a point to move past “wrongs” once the issue has been dealt with appropriately. They forgive quickly, and help leverage team members’ strengths instead of focus on past weaknesses.
  • Anticipators. Servant leaders think ahead to foresee the needs and desires of those they lead…and act accordingly.

Servant leadership may not be your current style, but if you want to begin to develop it, be encouraged that no matter how deeply ingrained your present behaviors may be, they can be remodeled. Becoming self-aware that there is room to grow is a terrific first step. But moving from a traditional leadership style to servant leadership is easier said than done. Break this valiant mission into small steps with simple, attainable goals. For example, try focusing on just one of the above qualities for the next few weeks. Brainstorm ways you can serve your teams in that way. Write them down. Post them in a place you can see them or put them on a to-do list. Set reminders on your smart phone. Grab an accountability partner to walk alongside you. Each and every day, make an attempt to do just one kind deed for a team member. Maybe it’s just looking up from your computer or phone when someone comes in to talk. Or spending an extra five minutes really listening to someone. Or taking them out to lunch. Or offering your talents to help on a project. Or making them a cup of coffee this morning.  If you’re struggling with ideas or follow through, team up with a coach to help you make the shift.

It may feel very unnatural at first, but like with anything, the more you practice it the more serving others will come natural. And the effort will be worth it. Robert Ingersoll says it best:  “We rise by lifting others.” Transitioning to a servant leader style can and will elevate your impact as a leader. And maybe, just maybe, those you affect will someday say this about you,  “He opened the door for many others and will forever be appreciated for his contribution to the game.”

“Your gifts are not about you.  Leadership is not about you. Your purpose is not about you.  A life of significance is about serving those who need your gifts, your leadership, and your purpose.” – Kevin Hall, author

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