People skills, you either have them or you don’t. True – up to a point. Some leaders are great at getting from their people exactly what is vital and important and others, well, let’s say, less so. Still, for all there is hope to make progress, by focusing on some key points to build leadership influence quickly and effectively, just by knowing how to handle your people better.
Here are the ten key areas you want to look at – in yourself…
Listen Well~It will come as no surprise, but the way you consciously, deeply listen to what others have to say to you is vital. Ask secondary questions. Be more interested in them than in yourself.
Recognize and Take Opportunities~Any and every interaction is an opportunity for this. Make the most of every chance you have for making a difference to someone. I realize that this is a cliché but, often times you only have one chance to interface with that person and your investment in them may be exactly what they need to develop to the next level. It also speaks volumes about your true intentions.
Build Positive Relationships~Whatever the stresses and strains you are under, take a deep breath when you are going to talk with someone. Your personal state makes a difference – and they notice. ‘Respond’ rather than ‘react’ – there’s a difference.
Appreciate Others Efforts~People try hard to do their best. Start with that premise and you will be making a difference wherever you go. It’s often not the girl-on-the-end-of-the-phone’s fault – she’s probably having a tough day herself. It’s not the harassed shop assistant’s fault. Seek to understand.
Say ‘Thank You’ Often, Easily, and Genuinely ~WOW!! This is one winning strategy. Try it the next time you are out and about. Try telling one of your team members thank you…just for being them and helping your organization become what it is today. Be prepared for them to light up like a pin ball machine…..and then they will give you the “what do you want…..” look! (By-the-way, it makes you feel great too!)
See Positives In Everyone~There are positives in everyone. It’s not about them, it’s about you. The most aggressive and challenging person has energy! There are true positives in everyone and as challenging as it may be, your task is to recognize and value that everyone has something to offer! The best leaders find it and leverage it – for everyone’s benefit.
Be Gentle To Your People~Courtesy, kindness, understanding – all words hardly befitting leading edge, tough & laser focused business leaders. Ah, but that’s where you might be wrong. Business focus can be as sharp as you like, but that still means you treat people well. At the bottom of it all, they are human, just like you. They want acknowledgement, understanding and support. By supporting them when they need support, they will support you.
Be Generous With Others~In life there are many opportunities to give. Of time; of money; to things that need your support. Rarely will you be so short on resources that you can’t afford to support, in some small way, someone else. The key to this is being organized enough to have margins in your life. Don’t live so close to the edge of your finances, your time or your energy that you will not be able to be generous with others when the time comes. When you have healthy margins, you can seize the opportunities when they come.
Accept Gratitude Back~ Treat inbound thanks and gratitude well! By taking these ‘gifts’ in a gracious, appreciative way, you build relationships. Many leaders have a difficult time accepting positive feedback. When you do not graciously accept it, the perception is that you are very ego driven. A true leader with a servant attitude is not ego driven (or at least they don’t let it show.) People feel good around you when you let them into your heart.
It is about you too! Don’t forget you. Investing in yourself is the biggest investment you can make. Making a difference is about being accepting of yourself in all of the above. Take time to appreciate you and what you do – you are a truly great person. So accept it with good grace! Being outwardly self confident and transparent is even more attractive then having “run way model beauty.” People want to be around leaders that are energetic, confident and beautiful. It is contagious!
Successful leadership is truly about being able to influence others. Investing, developing and equipping your team is a great place to start. You can not focus on others, however, until you evaluate qualities in yourself first. You can not develop in others what you do not have. These ten easy steps will help increase your leadership influence and increase your business productivity. It takes time, courage and honesty to get focus on these because you have to honestly evaluate yourself and your behaviors. It is always easier to point the finger outward when things are not going right. Always remember, however, when you are pointing your finger at someone else, you have four fingers pointing back at you.
By John Benson