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JFK said “leadership and learning are indispensable from one another”
So what is it then, that separates effective leadership from middle management? Let’s explore a few behavioural practices that if implemented, would pay dividends to organisational culture.
Reveal your Authenticity: Developing Trust and Building Relationships
Take a few seconds now to reflect on your career and think about a role where you were at your absolute best. What allowed you to perform at your greatest level?
More often than not it was due to, at least to some degree, your manager.
For managers to lead effectively, they must cultivate positive relationships with their subordinates and the most vital component of positive relationships is the presence of trust.
Self-Centred vs. Other-People Centred: Finding your Best Approach
To develop trust, managers can take two separate approaches; self-centred or other-people centred.
The first approach, self-centred, is all about exploring your self-perception. To be an effective leader, you should learn to reveal your real self to your colleagues. This level of authenticity makes you more approachable and becomes a catalyst for building positive relationships.
The second approach, other-people centred, requires one to explore the perceptions of others. That is, managers must learn to perceive their subordinates not as numbers but as humans, each with their unique talents and strengths to bring to the table. This acknowledgement of humanity regardless of organisational rank further facilitates a degree of respect for all employees. Managers then learn to support employees not through a focus on errors and undesirable behaviours but in the celebration of small victories and motivation through positive imagery.
How do I begin?
To promote positive relationships with your employees, you can start by asking yourself questions such as the following:
- “Am I being myself around them?”
- “Am I making efforts to understand their desires?”
- “Are they comfortable in discussing their obstacles with me?”
- “Am I supporting them in their development?”
By doing so, you are consistently monitoring your efforts to underpin your relationships with positivity.
Acknowledge True Meaning, Purpose and Vision
Organisations that make a positive impact comprise of employees who are driven by higher meaning, purpose and vision.
These employees are not motivated by a paycheck alone but by the outcome of their work in providing a tangible benefit to the world in some way, shape or form.
If this benefit is made clear from the beginning, their performance will be in service of that.
As a positive leader, make efforts to communicate a clear vision, to reinforce the benefit of your products or services, and to clarify the long-term impact of your work, will ensure your colleagues are associating their work with positive change. Acts such as these will also allow employees to drudge through uncertainty, obstacles and challenges in service of the greater good.
“When your subordinates can connect to their work through their core values, the possibilities are endless.”
By taking action towards the suggestions above, you are positioning your team in the best possible way for success.
Embody Positivity: Lead others through your Communication and Emotions
Research demonstrates that emotions are somewhat contagious.That is, through the use of facial mimicry, emotional expression from one person can produce similar emotions in those around them. The implications of this are particularly useful in the context of organisational change.
For instance, a leader’s display of positive emotions can produce organisational transformation because their emotions reverberate through to their subordinates.
Because managerial employees often interact with large groups, their expression of positive emotion is particularly transmutable, with studies showing that a leader’s positivity predicts their entire team’s performance.
Therefore, by inciting a frenzy of positivity, a manager has the ability to impact their organisational culture in dramatic ways.
The benefits of positive emotion in the workplace are far-reaching, healthy immune system functioning results in reduced employee absenteeism and lower job turnover among others.
Additionally, by using language that is positive and supportive rather than negative and critical, you will encourage those around you to do the same.
For instance, in addressing a problem, an effective leader would be well-advised to:
- Tell their subordinate what do rather than what not to
- Suggest available alternatives rather than implying blame
- Being helpful rather than critical
- Highlighting positive consequences of alternative action rather than negative consequences of a lack of action
Some people argue that it’s too difficult to change the tone of their speech suddenly. If this resonates with you, you might like first to try implementing positivity in a written format whether that’s a report or an email. By beginning here, you are positioning yourself for an easier transition that will allow the change in your speech to become more natural.
These changes, own when taken together, will echo throughout your team and ensure greater impact in your organisation.
You know that old expression:
’be the change you want to see in the world’?
The same logic applies here. Begin first with changing your behaviour and then watch as the change trickles down through your organisation. By infusing positive psychology into your relationships, interactions and organisational values, you are well on your way to equipping yourself with the necessary tools to lead your team to greatness.
About the Author
Yezen Nwiran is a positive psychology researcher, writer and aspiring practitioner. Having graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Psychological Science, Yezen now conducts academic research in the field, currently exploring the cultivation of resilience. He is also the founder and host of The Yez To Life Podcast, a podcast dedicated to improving the lives of others through applications of positive psychology. Find out more at www.yeztolife.com.