Ever wonder how a good leader learned to lead? It's less about learning how and more about listening to your heart! But leadership is complicated, which is why a good leader looks to their heart and their head.
We all have a story. Learn the stories of the people you lead. In hearing their stories, you'll gain an understanding of who they are and why they are. Having compassion for their stories allows you to see them as individuals. Compassion isn't just for heart-wrenching stories. It is merely about feeling concerned about their ups and downs in life. Don't feel compelled to fix anything, though. Use your head to relate to them at a human level, but don't get roped into becoming their savior!
Feeling empathetic comes along when you can genuinely feel what they feel, mostly as a result of being in a similar situation at one time in your life. Be careful! While being empathetic can undoubtedly bring you closer to those you lead, you mustn't lose sight of your role in the relationship. Being empathetic provides validation to their situation; it doesn't create a solution.
Be who you are. Leaders are still humans with feelings and with stories of their own. Being authentic creates a sense of trust amongst those you lead. They, in turn, feel confident they can be authentic as well. Know, however, that as a leader, others are watching you. Being authentic while also holding yourself to a high standard is critical.
Showing kindness in your interactions with your subordinates shows them that you respect them. Being courteous sets the stage for a culture that is respectful and considerate. Graciousness needn't be indulgent, however. As a leader, know the line that separates grace and indulgence. Leadership doesn't require hostility, but it does, at times, require a firmer response.
Being a good leader is a work in progress; it is often a balancing act between heart and head. Seeing the differences between the two and being able to toggle back and forth at the right time is a crucial skill for a good leader.
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