In my two previous posts, I mentioned that leadership often requires the ability to balance sometimes opposing characteristics. In Part 1, I touched on the balance of Courage with Humility. In Part 2, I talked about the balance of Strength and Vulnerability.
The third set of characteristics that I believe is required of a successful leader is the balance of being Demanding with being Empathetic.
In my recent blog post, Courage and Humility: A Balancing Act of Leadership Characteristics, I mentioned that leadership often requires a unique balance of sometimes opposing characteristics. In Part 1, I spoke wrote about Courage and Humility.
The second set of characteristics that I believe is required of a successful leader is the balance of strength with vulnerability.
Just because you have the title of "leader" doesn't make you are a leader. And just because you don't have the title of leader doesn't mean you aren't a leader.
People are called upon to do many things - both inside and outside of the workplace. Those who have the courage to do the right things, especially when the right things are difficult to do, deserve the title of leader.
Consider the following:
When army officers issue an operations order, they include a statement in the order called "Commanders Intent." The purpose of this statement is to provide people with guidance so that decisions can be made and action can be taken in the face of ambiguity.
The same can be applied in the work place. If you are a leader, make sure your people understand the overall purpose of the task at hand. If you are a team member, take responsibility for understanding how your task fits into the bigger picture.
Add clarity in the face of ambiguity. Understand your "manager's intent."
We all perceive the world according to our own reality. The experiences we have had in the past and the experiences we have today all create the perceptions that we hold about other people. Those perceptions influence our biases (and we all have biases), which in turn influence our behaviors.
Sometimes our biases are so ingrained that we don't even know they exist.
To be successful leaders and successful team members we have to become aware of our biases and how they influence our interactions with others in the workplace.
Have you or your team members experienced frustration because a colleague, boss, or customer misunderstood your tone and approach?
How many times have you walked away from an interaction not fully understanding if your communication was effective?
I can still remember sitting in front of the TV after school watching my favorite spinach-eating character flexing his "musKles" and saving the day.
But, my perspective of Popeye's quote, "I am who I am" recently changed when I heard a client use the phrase to describe people who had no interest in adapting and no interest in working with others who were different from them. "I am who I am, and if you don't like me - who cares."