Leading with Tact

One of the biggest things that leaders in the organization must keep in mind is tact.  Tact is defined as “a keen sense of what to say or do to avoid giving offense; skill in dealing with difficult or delicate situations.”  So what exactly does it mean for leaders to lead with tact?  I believe that in order to lead with tact, it is important to keep the following three elements in mind:

tact

Avoid playing favorites.

As a leader, it’s our jobs to be fair to our personnel.  While there may be people we like more than others, it’s something that not only needs to be kept to ourselves, but cannot affect our decision-making.  In order to avoid playing favorites, it’s important that we are cognizant of our own biases toward certain individuals.  A leader’s job is to bring out the best in everyone, which we can’t do if people are seeing bias in how we treat others.

 

Avoid putting down others.

While there may be people in the organization we don’t necessarily get along with, it’s important that we keep it to ourselves and avoid letting our personal opinions influence ours and others’ decisions.  While it’s okay to give constructive criticism, it’s not acceptable for leaders to put down others solely because they don’t like the person.  When we publically put down other people, it not only affects our credibility as leaders, it also potentially burns bridges between us and the person we discredited.

 

Know what to say and when to say it.

Leaders in the organization are responsible for making important decisions that may affect many people.  While leaders should effectively communicate information to others in the organization, it’s important to keep in mind the appropriate context for presenting the information and the appropriate audience to present the information to.  Leaders are constantly exposed to sensitive information, and it’s important to keep the timing, audience, and context in mind when presenting it to others.

 

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Leading with Confidence

Whenever I interact with someone, the first thing I look for in the other person is how confident they are, especially if this is a person who I will be working with.  If they don’t seem to be confident in their knowledge and abilities, then it will take them a lot more convincing before I could trust them as a credible source.  Confidence is an essential trait for effective leaders, since you, as the leader, are in charge of the people working under you.  You might have all the knowledge in the world, but if you don’t seem confidence in yourself, other people won’t be able to take you seriously.  Below are some easy ways to show some confidence:

confidence

Your spoken words.

If you have relevant and important information in your head, it is important to be able to communicate it in a way that exudes confidence.  Think about how you come across to others when you try to explain something to them.  Do you use a lot of “uh’s” and “um’s”?  If so, try to cut back on them, if not get rid of them completely.  Frequent usage of these terms can show others that you might be a little bit hesitant in presenting the information to them, even though you know what you are doing.  It doesn’t hurt to take a couple extra seconds to think carefully about what you are going to say and how you will say it.

Your body language.

Whether you know it or not, your body language can tell a lot about how confident you are.  Pay attention to your posture when you interact with people.  How are you standing?  Are you fidgeting or moving around a lot?  Keeping your back straight will not only make you look confident to the other person, but you will also feel the difference.  When you move around and fidget a lot, it’s not only distracting to the other person, but it also gives off a vibe that you are lacking confidence.  Make sure to keep the back straight and AVOID fidgeting next time.

Your ability to keep calm.

Make sure that you keep calm, especially when you are being confronted in one way or another.  When we lose our calm, we tend to lose control of our thought process.  As a result, we might say something that we didn’t mean.  This is probably the hardest task to do, as it is easy for us to “accident-proof” everything by covering our bases.  Focus on your own thoughts and the conversation at hand and take a deep breath.  Make sure to ask hard questions, but avoid accusations.

Related Thoughts:

Leadership: Unleash the Confidence Within

Unlocking That New Leadership Confidence

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The Importance of Leading by Example

A main part of a leader’s job is to be able to engage their personnel in order to better fulfill organizational goals and vision.  Instead of just talking the talk, leaders also need to show that they can also walk the walk.  Below are just some of the positive results from leading by example:

lead by example

You gain more respect and trust from your personnel.

When you lead by example, it shows others in your organization that you are also capable of walking the walk.  You establish yourself as a credible leader when others can see exactly what you are doing and understand why you are the leader of the organization.  You also build trust from your personnel when they see that you can do more than just give instructions.  Instead of leading by saying, try leading by doing.

 

Your people will become more engaged.

By setting the example for others to follow, you solidify your role as someone that others look up to.  This will increase your personnel’s engagement and commitment to the organization, as they can see how hard you are working in doing your part to achieve the organizational vision.  If you are working with someone you look up to, and you see how much commitment they are putting into their work, wouldn’t you try to do the same?

 

It creates overall organizational cohesiveness.

If you are someone in the organization that others look up to, they will show more commitment to the organization since you set the example.  This will eventually result in more team cohesiveness and a more concerted effort from everyone to achieve organizational goals.  When this happens, more people will get rid of the “me” mentality and adopt the “we” mentality, which creates a more productive environment.

 

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Organization First, Friends Second

workplace friends

When you work together with people in your organization, it’s inevitable that you’ll make some friends along the way.  Although it is great to have friends in the organization, it can sometimes get in the way of making important judgment calls.  As leaders, this is especially challenging since they are the people who make decisions that affect everyone.  If that’s the case, then is it even possible to have friends in the organization?  Or is it better off to just forget about friendships?

As a supervisor, I have to oversee employees that I am also friends with outside of work.  Unfortunately, there are times where I’ve had to write up my friends for various reasons.  As a friend, it was clearly a hard decision to make, as I don’t want to see my friends get in trouble.  However, as a supervisor, a leader, and an employee, I had a duty to the organization to be fair and ethical in my actions.  As such, I reminded my friends while I did not want to write them up, the fact is we were at work, and the organization comes before our friendship when we are at work.

Personally, I think there’s nothing wrong with having friends in the organization, as long as you make it perfectly clear that the overall goals and objectives of the organization comes before any friendships that are formed.  What this means is that as a leader, you should never let your friends influence your decision-making process.  While this can be a tough balancing act, you should realize that your primary duty, as a leader, is to the organization.  If your friends cannot accept that, then they are probably not meant to be your friends.

 

Related Thoughts:

Toxic Colleagues: Nine Coworkers to Watch Out For

Workplace Friendships: Asset or Liability?

 

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Why You Should Accept Resistance

resistance

Today, I wanted to discuss a short video presentation I found, called “Surround Yourself with Those Who Will Talk Back to You,” which talks about how push-backs in organizational decision-making can be beneficial to leaders who are on top of the organizational pyramid.  The idea of resistance in the organization may get a bad rap, but in reality, it can prove to be beneficial for leaders who are responsible for key decisions that affect multiple people.

Leaders are responsible for making the tough decisions, and although some of us may like to be the lone decision-maker in the organization, it’s important to weigh the potential consequences that accompany each decision.  The worst possible scenario for leaders is to lead a group of “yes men,” who go along with every decision that is made without questioning it at all.  Although leaders are chosen to lead because they have gained the trust of people in the organization, it is still up to others in the organization to keep leaders accountable.

Effective leaders should understand the importance of accepting resistance in the organization and surround themselves with people who will actually voice their opinions in the decision-making process.  No one likes to deal with resistance, especially when they know they are working tirelessly to do what’s right for their organization, but resistance is the essence to successful decision-making.  By encouraging others to voice their concerns, they show themselves to be open-minded to outside perspectives on matters at hand.  Leading a group of “yes men” shows signs of apathy within the organization, so don’t be frustrated if you’re meeting too much resistance in your organization.  It just shows that you have people who care.

 

Related Thoughts:

Five Steps to Handle Criticism

Making Decisions with the Organization in Mind

 

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Four Tips for Effective Listening

One key characteristic a leader must have is the ability to listen to others.  This is especially important in dealing with organizational conflicts and listening to criticism from others.  To be an effective listener, we must understand that there are more things to look for in a conversation besides just the spoken words.  Below are what I believe to be the four most important tips to keep in mind in order to listen effectively:

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Put 100% focus on the other person.

Although this sounds obvious, but it’s easier said than done.  We get distracted too easily sometimes (texting while others are talking to us, thinking about other things on our minds, etc.) that we don’t always put the necessary focus on the other person that it hinders our ability to gather sufficient information to make decisions.  To put 100% focus on the other person means we need to focus all our efforts on the other person when they talk to us.

Read between the lines.

Oftentimes we may say one thing, but actually mean something else.  One important trait to be an effective listener is the ability to gather information.  In this case, we do not only listen to a person’s spoken words, but also determine if there are any underlying meanings behind what they are saying.  This is especially important for people who lead a diverse group, as different cultures and personalities will yield different styles of communication.  While some people’s words may be taken at face value, others’ might require some extra analyzing.

Pay attention to body language.

This makes up for a huge part in conveying a message.  A person’s body language can tell you how interested they might be in a certain subject and what kind of emotions they may be feeling when they are talking to you.  It’s important to make sure that we pay attention to the person’s facial expressions, as well as body posture when they are talking to us.  I believe that effective listeners listen not only with their ears, but also their eyes.

Ask questions accordingly.

Based on the information you gather from their spoken words underlying meanings and body languages, you can now think of questions you can ask the other person in order to get a better understanding of their viewpoints.  By doing this, you don’t only get a deeper understanding of where they’re coming from, but you also show them that you were actively listening to what they were saying and you that you are someone who cares about them.  You’ll gain more respect as a leader this way.

Related Thoughts:

10 Tips to Effective & Active Listening Skills

The Art of Listening

Effective Listening

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Making Decisions with the Organization in Mind

decision

As leaders, we have the power to make an impact in the organization with our decisions, as every decision we make will affect people in one way or another.  In order to make sure we make the best decisions, we have to think carefully about what’s at stake and not be easily influenced by others in our decision making process.

People tend to be individualistic in the way they perceive situations, but it’s important for leaders to think and act in the interest of the collective group.  I think the most unfortunate part of being a leader is the constant exposure to organizational politics, as some people will try to influence your opinions and get you to act in their best interests, instead of everyone’s.  It’s important that leaders are not easily swayed by others, as their decisions not only affect other people, but also shape their character.

I’ve seen situations where leaders have been easily influenced by others, which caused them to make detrimental decisions to the organization.  It’s okay to hear other people’s opinions in order to make well-informed decisions, but it’s also imperative to understand why people have certain opinions and suggestions.  Do those suggestions benefit the organization as a whole?  Has that person made positive contributions to the organizations before?  These are some of the questions to keep in mind when listening to other people’s ideas.

Unfortunately, many leaders become too invested in their relationship with people in the organization, to the point where they let those people’s opinions blur their purpose as a leader and affect their ability to make decisions effectively.  While it’s not a bad thing to create friendships in the organization, it’s important for leaders to remember that their responsibility is to the organization and everyone who is involved in it.  Remember, the decisions we make as leaders also define us as people, so if our goal as a leader is to act in the benefit of the collective organization, our decisions need to show that.

Related Thoughts:

5 Elements of an Effective Decision Making Process

The Big Key to Organizational Decision Making

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