The Engaging Leader – Part 2

June 29, 2012 by  Filed under: Management 

Listening is your most powerful influence skill. Most people treat communication as a competitive exercise in which the first person to draw breath is declared the listener. People tend to hear and tell much more than they listen and understand. Good quality listening is all about doing the mental and emotional work required to look through the other person’s frame of reference.

Listening is 100 percent about understanding. It’s not about arguing, defending, justifying or proving a point. Listening is more than taking turns in a conversation. The goal of listening is to understand the other person, to develop empathy for them and to look through their frame of reference for a while.

Get the assertive fit right. Research by Aimes of Columbia University showed that when it comes to failed leaders, they do so because of poor assertiveness skills. They were either too hard and aggressive or too soft and passive. Effective leaders on the other hand got the assertive fit correct. The achieved a balance between driving for achievement organisational outcomes and consideration for the rights and needs of the team members.

Match your leadership style to the readiness of your follower. DePree said it well in his quote “Followers determine a leader’s success”. This suggests an inside out approach to leadership; i.e. focus on how ready a person is to follow you and then match your leadership style to what’s required. The Situational Leadership model is great for this. However the key to this model is to identify how ‘ready’ your follower is to follow and then (and only then) do you choose the appropriate.

Harness the creativity of your whole team. The pressure is on for managers to achieve higher performance and to innovate towards new and fresh solutions. Managers can’t do this on their own. They must enrol their entire team in the process of innovation and improvement. Yet many managers stifle creativity in their teams.

Of then this is done is done inadvertently as managers try to maintain focus on key deliverables and eliminate distractions from the goal at hand. It’s true that employees can have ideas that don’t have a strategic fit with where the organisation is heading.

To support creativity in their work unit managers need to firstly educate on the purpose of the team so that employees are clear on where their efforts ‘fit’ in the overall picture. Secondly managers need to listen to the ideas of the employees. This validates their creative efforts and acknowledges their effort and good will towards the organisation by even thinking of better ways to do things. If “No” is all they hear, they will pretty soon put their creativity on hold.

The underlying principle that unites all of the above points is to focus on who you need to become in order for others to willingly follow your lead. The key is to be purpose driven, then to get inside the other persons frame of reference and to lead and influence them in line with the purpose. The challenge of engaging leadership is to have willing followers.

To learn more about understanding the personalities on your team and becoming an engaging leader, visit James McNamara site

James McNamara from The Impact Factory teaches managers and business owners how to lead from three platforms. Firstly how to lead your team, secondly how to lead your clients and thirdly how to become the local thought leader in your niche.
To find out more about our team leadership training, visit

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