The traditional ‘strong’ and uncompromising leader figure seems outdated in a modern context. Today, leadership should be as much (if not more) about persuasion as rhetoric. I believe that the best way to encourage someone to their full potential is to make an emotional connection with them, whether this is trust, loyalty, or respect – I call this pathos persuasion.
Trust is all about believing in the people and processes you have established around you. It is important to demonstrate this by empowering your employees to take charge of specific projects, without feeling the desire to micromanage their every decision, or constantly check their work. By showing this trust you will inspire greater engagement, and in time, loyalty, so that each member of staff is working to the best of their ability.
Having this trust is also beneficial because it can free up your time for more valuable, progressive activities such as strategising for the future. Of course, employees will require some training to familiarise themselves with new activities, but the time spent doing this will be worthwhile for the freedom you will have later.
Active listening is a vital element in modern leadership. This represents a two-way process where the recipient has understood not just the words spoken, but also the meaning and sentiment behind them. The most effective way to lead is to first understand the position and viewpoints of your team members. Demonstrating your ability to listen and react accordingly, will not only increase your popularity, but will also allow you to tailor your directions to each employee.
If you feedback immediately on the information you have just received, this will show you have actively considered it and means you can discuss any details you are either unclear on or that require additional attention. Too many people plan their next words as their counterpart is still speaking; listening is an underrated skill.
Being persuadable can often be associated with weakness and indecision; however, the root of many problems can be traced back to a blinkered attitude. An effective leader is willing to admit that it is sometimes it makes most sense to alter their position, either because circumstances have changed, or new information has become available. This is most the logical way to operate. A refusal to pivot, for the sake of pride can be a very damaging decision which can cause a decreased rate of growth or even decline.
The ‘U-turn’ is an expression which holds negative connotations, and admittedly too many U-turns just result in a circle, which is far from ideal. However, the ability to stop, reconsider, and change approach should not be discouraged. Leaders cannot be expected to be omniscient; this is impossible. Therefore, having the honesty and transparency to say, ‘what we’ve been doing will not get us any further, we need to alter our approach,’ can sometimes be the perfect catalyst for productive transformation.
Do you empower your employees, so they have the freedom to excel? Have you considered that for a leader, listening is perhaps more important than speaking? Do you feel comfortable enough to pivot your approach and justify why you have done this?