Mastering Leadership
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Whether you’re starting out, changing job mid-career or completing your last decade of work, leadership success depends on how well you manage yourself and interact with others.

Mastering leadership is crucial for professional development. Success depends on knowing, appreciating and accepting who you are.

Effective leaders also use psychology to understand and motivate others. As you ascend to positions of greater power and responsibility, you’ll increasingly rely on social and emotional intelligence.

This article examines three essential skills that every leader must master.

Skill #1: Know Yourself Well

Knowing yourself, and knowing the forces that affect the people who work for you, holds the key to being a successful leader.

The very character traits that peg you as a high-potential leader may also prevent you from making it to the finish line. Every strength has a downside when carried to the extreme. Self-awareness can prevent self-sabotage.

You probably have a sense of your personal talents and liabilities. Learning how to leverage them at work—amplifying your strengths, while minimizing your weaknesses—sets the stage for good interpersonal relationships. You’ll become less vulnerable and sensitive to criticism. You’ll also learn more about your leadership constitution:

  • Do you have the drive, personality and desire necessary to shouldering executive responsibilities?
  • Can you cope with the associated stressors and the job’s highs and lows?

Even the strongest, most talented leaders have flaws. Each of us is driven by conscious and unconscious forces that must be channeled into positive outcomes, so it’s important to see personal development opportunities at every stage of your career.

Skill #2: Lead through Engagement

“When the best leader’s work is done, the people say, ‘we did it ourselves.”

Engaged employees are 22% more productive, according to a new Gallup meta-analysis of 1.4 million employees. They also enjoy double the rate of success, lower absenteeism and turnover, and fewer safety incidents and quality defects.

In an engaged workforce, people want to come to work. They understand their jobs and appreciate how their specific responsibilities contribute to the organization’s overall success.

An effective leader builds integrated teams: knowledge “communities” whose members work together creatively to achieve the desired result. If you expect your people to back initiatives with focus and enthusiasm, develop five essential skills that Dr. Settel describes in his book:

  1. Maintain your focus. Don’t lose sight of your personal and organizational goals as you face the everyday onslaught of complex information and technology (yet another reason to retain an executive coach). Ask yourself:
    a. What are my guideposts? My first priorities?
    b. Am I sticking to my path, or am I getting distracted?
  2. Maintain your values and integrity: Regularly assess whether you’ve strayed from your personal and organizational values. Ask yourself:
    a. Am I keeping to principles and standards in spite of pressures and frustrations?
    b. Do I resist the lure of competition and greed?
  3. Effectively prioritize and allocate resources: Keep resources aligned with long-term goals and strategies. Strong voices, from inside and outside the organization, will place conflicting demands on you. Maintain a clear sense of what truly matters in the long run.
  4. Understand your people’s expectations: Subordinates have expectations from important parental figures, including their bosses. They count on your love, support and approval. Understanding these desires makes you a better leader, especially when expectations become irrational.
  5. Serve as a role model: Everything you say and do is magnified and interpreted, often in unintended ways. Your communication and behavior carry weight, influencing others. Employees want to know that you love your work and appreciate their contributions. They closely watch how you handle challenges and achievements, and they will mirror your behavior.

Ask yourself:

  • How am I engaging my staff?
  • Do the people who work for me appear happy, or do they frequently complain?
  • Do they always ask for more time, resources or money, or can they move forward with what’s provided?
  • Who is generating new ideas? Do I encourage employee participation in planning and strategizing?
  • Can people carry out tasks without direct supervision?
  • Am I sympathetic to, and supportive of, others’ needs and concerns?
  • How resilient am I when faced with setbacks and obstacles? Do I allow my people to help me find creative solutions?
  • Am I generous with positive feedback? Do I frequently recognize progress?

Skill #3: Manage Emotions

For decades, business experts discouraged emotional expressions at work. These days, we know it’s impossible—actually detrimental—to ignore or suppress them.

We want to be liked, appreciated, rewarded and respected. We need friendships at work—some level of closeness and affection. We thrive in a work environment that allows us to safely express our opinions and feelings, including our aggressions.

If you expect your people to put aside their emotions and “just do the work,” you’re failing as a manager. Emotions are a fundamental part of what makes us human.

Regardless of your industry, you’ll encounter three common emotional needs at work:

  1. Attachment and connection: Some people’s social needs are minimal, while others are more pronounced. Some prefer to work alone, viewing social interactions as obstacles to productivity. At the other end of the continuum are people who never want to be alone. Be sensitive to people’s basic needs.
  2. Dependency, independency and interdependency: People depend on others for approval, validation and love. Even when these needs are satisfied outside the workplace, people seek to satisfy them at work. A good leader is sensitive to how much direction and interaction each employee needs to thrive at work.
  3. Aggression, anger and conflict: Aggression is a primal human behavior. When properly harnessed, it can energize a team and be productively channeled into creative projects. That said, aggression can also be disruptive. Many people are embarrassed by, or uncomfortable with, anger—especially their own. It’s up to you to recognize the early signs of aggression and talk openly about people’s feelings. Channel it away from destruction and toward innovation.
    “Being ‘carefrontational’ requires a willingness to take a risk and to be understanding of the person you’re talking to”. Dr. Goldsmith writes. “If you are not willing to share something that is bothering you with your teammates, then your working relationship will be diminished.”

You won’t gain self-knowledge in a vacuum, so consider working with a mentor or experienced leadership coach like myself to learn more about your leadership constitution.

If you’d like to have a conversation about how this works, give me a call.

Let’s talk: 949-721-5732.

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Call me today (949) 721-5732 to schedule a 30 minutes consultation.

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Moty Koppes is a certified master coach providing you with personal development, life coaching, relationship coaching, communication skills, personal power, life balance, career coaching, productivity enhancement, executive coaching and stress reduction in Newport Beach, Orange County, Southern California.