The Softer Side of Leadership

I was recently thrilled to be invited to speak at the Women’s Business Network April Breakfast Mix and Mingle.  In keeping with the Strut Your Stuff theme of Leadership, it was so nice to be able to speak to the softer side of Leadership, an area of Leadership that is often overlooked in literature. Although I am not a certified coach, I have found that the following key points are important areas to keep in mind when finding or honing your own Leadership style:

  1. Lead by example – Never be afraid to get your hands dirty. It is important that you don’t ask anything of your folks that you wouldn’t do yourself.
  2. Support your team by mentoring and coaching – When you show your team that you value their professional development, they will invest in the organization. When they succeed, you and the organization succeed.
  3. Motivate with praise as often as you can – A kind word and positive feedback go a long way.  Even the small things matter!
  4. Small organizations leave little space between leaders and the team – Ensure you empathize with your staff, understand the why’s of where they’re coming from. Value their opinion. Know your stuff, but don’t be afraid to admit when you don’t.
  5. Make your staff feel safe – Leading is not just about having staff follow orders, it is important to foster an environment where people feel safe to express their ideas and opinions.
  6. Keep things fun – Colleagues spend a lot of time together – it is a shame to spend that time without having fun or enjoying what you are doing.

The soft side of leadership is the truth side, the heart side, the conscious side, the love side. How many people do you know who admit that professional and technical skills are a lot easier to master than personal and human skills?

The soft side of Leadership takes energy and creative ideas which need to be replenished and nurtured. The following 4 suggestions will allow you to replenish and manifest the kind of leader you want to be:

  • Feast on feedback – Most people are afraid to tell the truth to their superiors. Find ways to insist on hearing from people and make sure that you take feedback seriously, don’t ask if you’re not prepared to change.
  • Hire a coach or a mentor – You need coaching and mentoring too!  It’s true in sports, and it’s true in leadership. Engage a coach who you trust to talk straight to you, one who gets the importance of “who you are” vs. “what you do”.
  • Be quiet – A person can’t grow being in reactive, firefighting mode all the time. Your inside shrivels if you never get quiet. Pray. Meditate. Walk slowly in the park. Sit alone. Figure out what will work for you.
  • Find a friend or two – Someone your trust that is safely away from work. Find like-minded people you can let your spiritual hair down with. Tell them the truth. Laugh with them. Admit where you’re hurting. Even a leader needs someone to hold them to the higher pathway in life.

I hope that a few of the nuggets that I have shared have resonated with you or allowed you to reconnect with some ideas that may have strayed from your practice. These practices have served me well in my 18 years of leadership and I welcome you to share and pass along any other suggestions that you have found work for you.

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