In one of our first Monday Moment’s of 2019, the Top Ten Leadership Tips of 2019, tip number four was Amplify Your Humanity. As we progress through the year, we cover each tip with more thorough detail and guidance and this next month’s content is about being more human (and less like a robot) in your leadership. Can you imagine if a drone notified you that one of your team members needed a meeting, or a raise even? All generations except this most recent entry of Gen Z employees, would likely be appalled at the idea, but it might just be coming. However, no matter the influx of artificial intelligence, menu trees, robotic operators or technology in our day to day work and living, there are a few key areas in which leaders must and need to remain human. After all, it is humans you’re still leading and though you may not always like it, unlike Data on Star Trek, humans have a wide range of emotions and motivations that a fellow human would do well to be aware of and monitor. This leads us to the first way in which you want to continue to amplify your humanity in a position of leadership in the office…
1. Admit It
Leaders of all years of experience and levels have had days on which they woke up without the feeling of leading. In other words, they left their A game at home, didn’t feel exuberantly confident and certainly didn’t wake up saying “woohoo, I cannot wait to go lead people at the office”. Every leader has been there and one key distinguishing difference between any artificial intelligence and humans is the presence of an off day. More importantly, when your humanity is showing and you allow yourself to be real, even authentic, you admit it. Admit when you are not at peak performance. Use it not as an excuse, but as a way of allowing others to rise to the occasion in their own development, but also to take a breath and a sigh of relief that none of us, even our boss, is perfect. Leaders who admit it are called authentic.
2. Develop Empathy WITH Clarity
It is this same admission of having an off day that sparks and provokes the emission of empathy. If you know, even as a boss, that there are days when you’re not at your best, you’re much more likely to be empathetic with others who have the same experience. Bad days are not permanent, but temporary. However, if a team member begins to use this “bad day card” on a regular occasion, be the human being leader that you are and be empathetic, while having clear boundaries. Remember, empathy means you can understand how they have arrived at the feeling of sadness, for example. Sympathy involves you crying with them. You are their leader and you have the power to share support, understanding, and guidance to get back on track like no drone can deliver. This is why some leaders are called caring!
3. Practice Frequently
If you’re not a people person by nature or don’t feel comfortable talking about any kind of feelings at the office, this approach of showing humanity may take practice. Practice takes conscious effort and that effort means you are not going to be successful just going through the motions or dialing in your leadership to the office. Stick with the new skills you wish to learn. They may include risk of people seeing who you really are. They may include people seeing you as vulnerable, or even human. Gasp! Anything that is new to you or outside of your comfort zone of normal behavior will take practice. Computers certainly don’t practice, they do or don’t do a prescribed or directed action. This is why leaders are often called driven.
4. Be Persistent
Persistence is also a uniquely human trait. The way artificial intelligence approaches what looks like the act of being persistent, is to merely engage in being repetitive. When humans are repetitive in the same vain, trying to solve the same problem or deal with the same person in the same way that has not yet been effective, we call that insanity. Don’t do that. Keep going and keep looking and keep seeking the solution, the crack in their smile, their moment of relaxed ease when they’re approachable, or that open spot on Mondays when they’re more open to learning and less frustrated. Keep going and keep trying and keep at it. Leaders don’t give up when they see options that have yet to be tried that could net a result that has yet to be reached. This is why leaders are sometimes called inspiring!
5. Invest Your Time and Energy Wisely
The latest in technology leaves humans believing computers can make decisions. The reality is computers can solve problems and unless it is being kept one giant secret, the only ones able to make true decisions based on a sense of judgement, are seen in the movies. You, however, can prioritize based on last minute new information, change direction on a dime even in ways that appear illogical, break rules for the best outcome of a client, and choose to spend time with only those employees who are blowing the doors off of performance. You make decisions and often you have to assimilate factors like office politics, company culture, employee relations, and regulations that on the surface, all seem absurdly unrelated. Leaders relate them and learn to assimilate both the big picture and details that allow them to make the best decisions on how to spend their time and energy most effectively. This is why some leaders get promoted.
Whether you feel you’ve been promoted, but not prepared or work with a company for which technology is their bread and butter, the reality is humanity cannot and should not be taken for granted. No number of electronic leashes, faster texting technology, or digitization of the human factor will ever remove completely, the need for well, just that: the human leader. The key is truly to be one and that means working on your own vulnerability, emotional intelligence, confidence, and authenticity. Much more to come this month on topics such as these.
Ready to Take the Become a Better Leader Challenge?
Each Monday Moment shares a Become a Better Leader Challenge relevant to that week’s topic. This week your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to ask three team members how they see you in the areas of:
- Persistence when it comes to problems
Exercise caution not to confuse their opinions with facts, but recognize that perceptions, while they’re not definitive, certainly do have an impact on how people would rate your leadership.
You’re on your way and you’re ready to become that better leader by Monday.
I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great week and of course, stay Contagious!
Monica Wofford, CSP develops leaders. CEO of Contagious Companies, her firm designs and delivers leadership training for those managers who’ve been promoted, but not prepared. Author of Contagious Leadership and Make Difficult People Disappear, Monica may be reached at www.ContagiousCompanies.com, www.MonicaWofford.com or by calling 1-866-382-0121.