Emotions are powerful. In our society, the show of emotions is often shunned and looked down upon as a sign of weakness. A true leader understands how powerful emotions can be and uses them to his or her benefit.
An effective leader keeps emotions in check. There are times when a leader must put their own emotions aside in order to properly address the emotions of their followers. This is especially the case with the display of negative emotions. There may be circumstances that cause a team to be sad, upset, angry, or frustrated. It is not unreasonable to think that a leader would not be emotionally affected by the same circumstances, but, as a leader, it is more appropriate to be strong when your team is weak. Acknowledge their feelings. Be their strength. Avoid commiserating with team members and be the inspiration and voice of clarity that they need.
At one of the campuses that I led, a student was tragically killed in an off-campus incident. The tragic loss of this student hit the student body and the staff hard. I felt it too--Why did this happen? How could someone so young be taken away? However, it was my job to put my emotions aside so that I could assist my staff and students. We needed a plan for grief counseling for staff and students, we needed to assure parents and the community of student safety, and we needed to support the parents of the deceased student in their time of need. I could not be so caught up in grief that I couldn't lead.
No one expects a leader to be without emotion and stoic, but there are times when a leader needs to hold those emotions in until they are among fellow leaders or with family at home so that they can properly lead their team on the job. On the other hand, just as leaders need to withhold emotion, there are times when leaders need to deliberately show emotion. That topic will be discussed in Part 2. Subscribe to the newsletter so you don't miss it!
As leaders, we are often in the position of hiring new members for our team. I remember being ecstatic the first time I had the opportunity to be part of a hiring team. Before long, I was in charge and solely responsible for hiring team members. I have successes and failures in hiring team members, so here's what I've learned along the way;
When you have success as a leader, more than likely you are confident in your abilities. It is natural to see your strengths in others. I definitely do not have a poker face so during interviews, I would find myself smiling or nodding in approval when I spoke with candidates who shared some of the same skills and values that I do. Before I knew it, I had hired replicas of myself. I believe in hiring someone like yourself because as a leader, you do not have the time to do the things that you did before your promotion, so you need someone to replace you. On the other hand, you are not perfect. You need to know where your weaknesses are so that you can hire team members that have strengths in the areas that you are weak. For example, I am a doer. I grow impatient with people who are reluctant to take action. I needed someone on my team that was going to remind me and the other team members to pause and reevaluate before we took action. When I was a new leader, I knew that there was a lot that I still didn't know. I found a team member that had more experience than I did in a particular area. My team worked well together and were effective. The point is, use your hiring opportunities to build a well-rounded team. Team members should represent a diversity and balance of personalities, skills, values, expertise, and experience. Be careful not to hire only those that are reflections of yourself, or you may find your weaknesses magnified!
I would argue that the higher up in leadership you go, your locus of control shrinks and your sphere of influence increases.
Locus of control refers to the people, processes, systems, etc. that you have direct control over. We have a tendency to manage (not lead) the things within our locus of control because we have the authority to deliver consequences if they are not meeting standard (and micromanage!). For example, a classroom is a teacher's locus of control. She has authority over her students, her lesson plans and her classroom management strategies. If a student misbehaves, there are certain consequences that she can deliver, or she can choose to monitor that student more closely than before.
On the other hand, the sphere of influence refers to people, processes, systems, etc. that you can impact or influence, but have no direct control over. Within our sphere of influence, we have a tendency to be more savvy in how we interact with people because we know we cannot make them do anything. Some even manipulate to get their way! Using the example of the teacher, her sphere of influence may include other teachers, campus administration, and the parents of her students. She can strategize about how to interact with these people so that she may benefit, but she has no authority over them.
As a leader, you may find yourself farther and farther from the initial job that you started in the industry. The aspects of your job that you used to have direct control over are now harder to impact because you have to work through several middlemen or you simply are not available enough to monitor everyday activities. In contrast, a leader's sphere of influence grows as they move up and the strength of their influence becomes stronger. A leader may find themselves rubbing shoulders with decision-makers or discovering that their words (or an email) had a larger impact than anticipated. An effective leader recognizes their influence and strategically uses it to impact the performance of employees, to collaborate and partner with peers, and to obtain new resources and markets.
If you want to learn more about how to identify and take advantage of your sphere of influence, contact me here for a free leadership consultation.
Don't miss a post! Subscribe to have the newsletter delivered directly to your inbox!