It’s not the mission statement. It’s not the paycheck. It’s not the perks.
It’s how you manage yourself.
Simple as it sounds, your influence is directly related to how well you regulate your emotional responses, make deliberate choices about your actions and how congruent you are with your values.
Leaders do untold damage to team morale when they are reactive.
Uncontrolled, unconsidered responses destroy trust, respect and enthusiasm. No matter how big the problem, it is never conducive to a good resolution if the leader is explosive, controlling, sarcastic, rude or judgmental. These reactions turn employees right off. They shut down. Withdraw. Avoid. They become disengaged, just ‘doing their job’, churning out the bare minimum with one eye on the clock.
Many leaders have strong personalities – it’s part of the reason they’ve landed in leadership positions – and they can find it frustrating that other people don’t engage with their drive and vigorous approach. If you are a leader with a strong personality and you suspect that your staff are not being 100% honest with you or are avoiding you at times, it might be time to ask if you are creating that situation with your unregulated reactions.
How does my communication ‘land’ with my staff?
Do they trust that I’ll talk to them with respect at all times?
Even when the pressure’s on?
Do I know how to do that?
Your communication is the response you get. If you get a response you didn’t want, you must change the communication to get a better result.
The vast majority of employees want to do a good job. Given the right conditions, people will work hard and do their best, going that extra mile when it’s needed. But people are made up of many different personalities with different preferences for what those ‘right conditions’ look like. Some like a direct, straight talking attitude while some need a gentler, more caring approach to bring out the best of them. Some need reassurance, others need more freedom.
The most skilled leaders are able to adjust their communication to get the optimum response from each member of the team for the job in hand. One size really does not fit all, if your communication jars with an employee, you can guarantee you aren’t getting the best out of him or her because after an interaction they are uncomfortable with, their focus will go to processing that discomfort rather than putting their attention on whatever it is you want them to do! It really is in everyone’s best interests to establish sophisticated, considered and respectful communication.
So how does a leader ensure they communicate in a way that inspires action and commitment from their people? The following 3 tips will help to develop a leader’s emotional intelligence, a critical skill in engaging a team.
Tip 1: “ARM yourself” to be better prepared for interaction with your team.
Awareness: Take a moment to become aware of your state. Are you impatient, frustrated, tired? Ask yourself if your current state is likely to contribute to a good outcome or cause friction. Hint: any negative emotional state is likely to get in the way of a good outcome!
Regulation: Redirect negative impulses. This can be as simple as taking a ‘reset breath’ to get yourself fully in control of what comes out of your mouth next.
Motivation: quickly connect with your motivation – your ‘why’ for doing what you do. What is your highest intention or your best self’s perspective?
Tip 2: Make considered, deliberate choices that are aligned with your desired end result for the interaction . Choosing your attitude, words and actions wisely will gain the collaboration of your people not just their compliance.
Tip 3: Know your values and act congruently with them to gain the respect and trust of your team.
At the end of the day, you can’t run the company or department all on your own. You need the allegiance of your team, they are your most important asset. The better the relationships you can build with them, the more you can collectively achieve.
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