June 26, 2020
Throughout our history, tales of great leaders have been passed down from generation to generation. Even today, the world is filled with leaders who are responsible for thousands, if not millions, of individuals. But I’d argue that the power they hold is less important than the power to empathize with those they govern.
Hear me out; The sign of a good leader is one who can blend organizational leadership skills with emotional intelligence. The ability to read and regulate one’s own emotions while being able to understand how others feel is a trait that seems hard to come by nowadays.
Some leaders use fear to control their people. Others may employ a reward system. But for me the best type of leader is one who makes others feel good about themselves and the work they are doing. This in turn inspires them to do better and be better.
Now I’m not saying I’m an expert at this, but I have noticed what has worked for me and how good leaders have made me feel. Here are just a few ways to know if you’re on the right track.
While this may sound cliché, it’s the absolute truth. I’m sure we’ve all experienced a leader who would rather bark out orders than help get the job done. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with delegating. But a true leader is willing to put in the time and effort to get the job done rather than sit back and watch others do it. When others see that you’re committed to them and the task at hand, their morale and motivation improves.
Work can be tough and can begin to wear people down. That’s why it’s important to be aware of other’s feelings. If people feel overworked or neglected, then their attitudes begin to shift. Everyone needs to feel appreciated. That’s why it’s important to recognize the achievements of others. Compliments are great, but you should also provide some sort of perk or reward to show you care. A little goes a long way.
As a leader, self-awareness is important. Without it, you can’t identify the impact you have on others. That’s why you should be open to honest and critical feedback. Depending on your level of leadership, some may not be willing to tell you things that are hard to hear. That’s why it’s important to be the kind of leader that makes people feel comfortable enough to tell you everything – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Without that type of feedback neither you, nor the organization, can grow.
As mentioned before, self-awareness is important. It’s a key emotional intelligence skill behind good leadership. It’s understanding how you’re feeling and why, and how that impacts your feelings and behavior. When you are able to understand how you feel and why, you can monitor and control biases that you may have that can sometimes impact your decision making.
While it’s important to set expectations for yourself and for others, it’s important to maintain realistic expectations. No one’s perfect, including you. You will make mistakes and so will those you work with. You will fail and sometimes you may not have the support of those you are tasked to lead. While you can’t control these factors, you can control the way you respond. Understand that somethings are beyond your control, pick yourself up, and use it as a learning opportunity. Your determination is bound to inspire others.
A leader is supposed to inspire, uplift, and support others. The authority given to them should never be abused, but instead be used to benefit others. I may not be able to list off all the traits of a good leader, but I know one by the way they make me feel.