It’s no secret that the 2016 presidential campaign left battle scars between friends, family, and co-workers, in what has been referred to as an unprecedented, campaign, unprecedented battle, and unprecedented victory. Before talking about how glorious the next four years will be, or before declaring lost hope, shift focus to yourself: What if your own leadership development was the best way to change the world? What if your goodwill could bring alignment to our country? We stand at the crossroads of an unprecedented opportunity: to use what we have experienced to grow exponentially as individuals, as leaders, and as a nation. What if leadership development made the difference? Here are seven leadership skills to master.
If you want to influence others listen first. Leaders who listen control the conversation. Even when the conversation is one-sided, heated or unreasonable, listen with interest. Yelling, screaming, judging and name calling never changes anyone’s mind. Listening first shows maturity, wisdom, critical thinking and a willingness to understand. When people feel understood, they feel loved. When people feel loved they trust. When people trust they are willing to listen. Real conversation is both listening and talking, giving and receiving. The one who listens first changes the conversation. What kind of leader could you be if you improved your listening?
Curiosity requires you to learn and to let go of the “know-it-all” mindset. Curiosity says, “I’m interested in you and your ideas.” Curiosity is a non-ego-fattening substitute for defensiveness, anger, and self-righteousness. Curiosity helps you to lean through choice rather than through consequences. Curiosity heals pain, keeps you out of drama and deepens relationships. Curious leaders are more effective than know-it all leaders.
Just a three second pause before responding helps you gain self-control. Instead of reacting on social media, grab a cup of tea. Think about your end result. Instead of shooting off a hot email, pause. Create space. Instead of immediately disagreeing, breathe. Count to three. Look the other person in the eye. When you create space, you give yourself the gift of choice: to respond rather than to be at the mercy of your trigger reactions. As a leader, when you create space, your employees trust your stability.
Use Responsible Language
We saw irresponsible language and its effects play out during the 2016 political campaigns, not only with the candidates but between opposing supporters. Neither the right nor the left were able to see how we were all playing the same game: blaming a villain and seeking a hero. Hero’s and victims belong in the movies. Responsible language requires of us to become empowered, see a vision for the future, and take ownership of the small part we can play to make things better. A key opportunity for leaders is to use responsible language and coaching other leaders to use responsible language.
One of the biggest reasons for relationship drama is due to the inability or unwillingness to set appropriate boundaries. A boundary is not a boundary unless you have a measure of control. You may need to set a boundary around your open-door policy, set personal limits on how much time you spend on your device, or how much you are willing to participate in negativity and venting. Boundaries give you control of your life and keep you aligned to your own priorities. Great leadership includes the ability to set appropriate boundaries.
Balance Choice and Responsibility
With the advancement of technology we have more choice to express our opinions through the broadcasting system called social media. We have more access to information and more speed at which information travels. It’s tempting to take the choices without taking the responsibility to use discretion, check facts, and seek opposing viewpoints. Grabbing on to choice without taking equal responsibility is like giving car keys to a ten year old. With every new freedom, or every new choice there is an equal and balancing amount of responsibility to be accounted for.
Seek Evidence of Good
You get what you look for. It’s the need to be right, win the argument, or prove the point. In psychology this phenomenon is called confirmation bias. Shift your focus to look for evidence of good, and the good will appear. What is possible for you when you see the good in your boss, your employee, your kids, and your spouse, and even our political leaders?
Marlene Chism is a consultant, international speaker and the author of Stop Workplace Drama, (Wiley 2011) and the author of No-Drama Leadership, (Bibliomotion 2015). Visit the web at www.marlenechism.com. Connect via Linked In, Facebook and twitter.