American author and management expert Kenneth Blanchard once stated: “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” The best leaders are those who understand how they influence others and are able to manage that effect strategically.
The goal of any leader should be to affect people in a positive way for the betterment of the organisation. A really good leader needs to understand how their behaviour and their leadership style affect others and learn how to deploy both to get the best out of their team.
Understanding the effect you have on others is a kind of emotional intelligence. A good leader should view emotions as a useful source of information to help one make sense of and negotiate interactions with others. Leaders who can use their own and others’ emotions to navigate an organisation’s social environment are going to be more powerful than those who are “out of touch” with social cues.
Let’s have a look at some traits of leaders who understand their impact on others. These people tend to:
- Ask for feedback on what they can do help their team succeed
- Regularly and comfortably engage with team members in both professional and casual situations
- Check in with the team to assess culture and morale
- Spend effective time with team members teaching, listening and learning
- Understand the strengths of individual team members
- Willingly and regularly provide feedback and mentoring
- Be aware of how their emotional state affects others
- Maintain their composure and be able to manage negative or emotional situations
- Proactively seek communication
- Admit mistakes and show humility
- Comfortably engage staff in social situations
Time and place
Differences in behavioural style mean that some leaders will be more effective in some situations than others. The best leaders understand their own behavioural styles and work traits and are aware of the situations best suited to their tendencies. That means they are able to tailor workplace situations to suit their management style so as to get the best results from their team.
Know your people
The best leaders understand that no two people are the same. Everyone likes to work and communicate in different ways and the best leaders almost instinctively understand this and tailor their communication and management styles to best suit the person they’re interacting with.
Knowing employees’ work and communication preferences, understanding how they prefer to be managed and how they respond to authority, enables the best leaders to shift how they manage rather than forcing their employees to change to suit management.
Test your people
Consider having your HR team do some psychometric testing across your organisation or within specific teams. This kind of testing can help team members understand their own and each other’s working traits and preferences. For leaders, understanding how your team members prefer to work can offer invaluable insights into how to manage them to get the best out of them. Profiles International Australia provides The Profiles Performance Indicator™ – a DISC-type assessment that reveals aspects of an individual’s personality that could impact their fit with their manager, coworkers and team as well as their job performance. An extremely powerful tool for motivating and coaching employees and resolving post-hire conflict and performance issues.