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Monica Wofford, CSP, is a professional speaker and CEO of Contagious Companies, a training and consulting firm that develops better leaders and trains managers how to become better leaders. Her Monday Moment has been a popular leadership learning tool since 2006!

What are psychologists talking about with reference to leadership?

A dear colleague of mine is a Clinical Psychologist and last night we spent an hour philosophizing about leadership on the phone. He also happens to be the Dean of one of the leading Medical Colleges in the Country and I thought you would find his insights incredibly helpful, particularly during this time of year when sugar plums, not leadership theory, are dancing around in our heads.

Paradox of Power

There is a new form of leadership power in town and it is adding to the challenge of leading multiple generations. The old form of power was captured in a title or some authority. This power has been closely guarded and often resulted in others feeling left out or powerless. That has changed and the more recent developments of power are in how you channel it and how much you embrace the idea of radical transparency. It seems the more you share about you and who you are, the more power others perceive you to have. Then it is a matter of channeling that power in the most appropriate ways. This new power or version of it reinforces over-communication and the abundance of sharing of information. How much information are you sharing with that team you lead?

Pattern Interrupt

We all have those moments in which words fly out of our mouth without our consent …frequently followed by those moments in which we desperately wish someone had invented a mouth vacuum. Psychologists recommend a tool for use in this case called a Pattern interrupt. In other words, devise a question that you can ask yourself (in your head) that stops the momentum and power of your oncoming words and potentially hurtful expression of momentary emotion. For example before you lambast someone into next week because they’ve frustrated you, ask yourself “Do I have a connection with this person that is valuable?” or “Can I channel this energy into a solution that will solve the problem?” The process of answering it sidetracks your adrenaline. I’m going to call this the use of strategic squirrel moments. Ha!

Perplexing Skill Usage

As someone who utilizes emotional intelligence and personality traits in much of our leadership development programs, I’ve long been aware that overuse of a positive skill or trait can be seen as a negative. What I’ve not often considered is the same paradigm exists for underuse. Your leadership skills of drive and accomplishment may not serve you well in some situations. Tone those down when talking with the employee who is more people oriented. Overuse them and they become demanding and aggressive. Underuse them and they usurp your authority. Thus, a conscious monitoring of toning down certain skills and amping up others, when the time or situation warrants, is an essential effort of leaders. Current leadership psychology suggests the skill to balance your skill usage then is apparently the most important skill of all.

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great week, an even better Monday, a peaceful Hanukah, and of course, stay contagious!

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