It’s Not Leadership without This Practice

 In Adult Development, Finding Meaning, Goal Setting, Happiness, Helping Others, Intention, Leadership, Leadership Development, Mindfulness, Presence, Team Performance

We spend a ton of our waking hours at work. And the way we treat one another is extremely important to our success. Yet some of the smartest people I know turn people off with careless comments and aren’t even aware of it. This behavior results in diminishing their relationships, their power, and their effectiveness.

Here are the biggest complaints I hear more than any other:
“My boss (coworker, peer, direct report) treats me like an idiot. He’s such a jerk.
He’s mean-spirited and rude. He says critical, negative things.”

In one case, the bad boss had these deflating things to say in just one morning:

“I can’t believe you didn’t meet your deadline.”
“That will never work.”
“We missed our numbers and it’s your team’s fault.”
“Fine, go ahead with your decision, but if it doesn’t work, it’s all on you.”

My frustrated and discouraged clients all declare: “I can’t stand being treated this way. And I refuse to let anyone else be treated like this. What can I do?”

Here’s the reality.
My clients and their tactless perpetrators really do all want the same thing. They are both dedicated to their work, their teams, and their goals. They’re both working crazy hours, being really responsive and trying to get to the same end goal. Both want the best outcomes. And the intentions of those tough personalities are actually very different from their actual outcomes.

Here’s what I have found to be true:

We want to be respected.
We’re wired to naturally notice things that are wrong.
We act how we’ve always acted, especially if it has brought us success and status.
We often have no idea about the impact our language makes and what its tone actually conveys.
We want to make a meaningful contribution. And yes, we all want to make a difference.

Negative words and attitudes can be demoralizing. Pointing out what’s wrong can be discouraging. Acting as if they’re wrong can just plain alienate people.

There is a better way. A more productive way. A lower risk way.
Hold people accountable for their behavior in a kind and loving way. Foster a work environment where people respect you, not fear you. Change your behavior and interact more like a mentor, teacher or coach.

Start getting positive results:
Stay grounded and positive especially under stress: It only takes a moment to gather yourself and regroup.
Ask questions to truly understand: Hmm, could you say more about that?
Be nonjudgmental and model respect: Wow, you seem upset. I can see this really means a lot to you.
Encourage a move toward a solution together: We’ve both been through a lot the last few weeks, let’s sit down and figure this out together.

Kindness and leadership style really matter in the work place. Never mistake kindness for weakness. Always remember what you say and how you say it have an enormous impact.

Make your move bold and with heart. Be determined and show respect.
Focus on both productivity and kindness.

That’s my kind of leadership. I hope it will become part of yours.