The best-kept secret for learning leadership and overcoming your fear of making mistakes

Reciting a list of the surefire steps isn’t the best approach to learn leadership, since each leader’s personality is an instrumental factor in shaping a leadership style and therefore not all guides work the same for every leader. We can, however, identify three basic concepts behind any effective leadership, though we should nevertheless bear the fluidity of this concept in mind, since it adapts and changes over time and with experience.

Leading by example

Starting with your character, particularly your strengths, look for a leadership style that best matches your personality and set the example for what you expect to see in your team.

You may sometimes believe that you know your strengths as a leader and what you need to work on to improve, but it would certainly do no harm to ask your team and coworkers for their opinion. Leadership assessments could be very effective for gathering this information. In this regard, you can self-evaluate based on the metrics that actually fit your role, sending the same assessment to at least three coworkers so that you can subsequently draw up a report that will let you clearly view which leadership criteria you have off pat and which you should work on.

The so-called transformational leaders, for instance, usually exemplify the conduct and characteristics that they want to see in others. Leading by example also shores up a leader’s credibility, since the leader is viewed as an expert or model for others.

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Leading with humanity

Coordinating or leading people involves a heavy dose of emotional intelligence. Recognizing and understanding the emotions of others and yourself is an essential tool in successfully leading a team. Ever since Daniel Goleman published his book Emotional Intelligence, the debate continues to play out on whether it matters more than IQ, particularly in the work environment.

Many studies have in fact shown that employees with an elevated emotional intelligence have greater job satisfaction and performance. Emotionally intelligent leaders normally make better business decisions, handle pressure better, respond better to constructive criticism and usually have a greater degree of empathy. Even though personality plays a key role, emotional skills can also be developed, and their benefits also appear at the physical and mental levels, including a significant reduction in the levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Overall this plays in favorably to cultivating an environment of open and friendly communication, trust where you’ll be able to keep your ego in check, act with honesty and show that you are sensitive. We all make mistakes, including people who need to lead teams. Only in a secure and trusting environment can people feel free to unleash their creative side and talk about their concerns; how can we resolve a situation if nobody openly talks about the problem?

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Leading from below

Closely related to the previous concept, this is another essential element that fortifies any emotionally intelligent leadership. Prioritize people. Get to really know them as much as you can. Doing so will help you choose the best way to communicate with them depending on the moment. How is this done? By practicing the heralded art of “active listening”. Good leaders are capable of expressing the sincere concerns of their teams verbally and non-verbally. Consistency between these two ways of communicating is absolutely vital for credibility.

In essence, make your team feel that you’ve got their back and they’ll be more willing to work together to achieve the same goals. Keep a positive and passionate mindset and don’t take opinions openly expressed at the workplace personally.

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