Three keys to being an irresistible leader
Leadership is a tough job. Not only do you have to be adept at managing multiple priorities, but you also have to possess expert people skills. After all, regardless of industry, a leader is only as good as his or her team. Without the buy-in and respect of your employees, you’ll have a difficult time accomplishing the organization’s goals. The challenge, then, is figuring out how to be irresistible to your team—how to create the conditions by which people can’t resist your message and vision and therefore want to align and partner with you.
Becoming irresistible requires that you attract and connect with people, which naturally results in trust and loyalty. That’s why the key for any leader is to create the conditions and experiences by which people want to engage with you. Following are the top three ways to build engagement with your staff.
1. Build Rapport
The best way to build rapport with people is to simply listen to them. When people feel listened to, they are more likely to trust you and are more eager to engage with you. To make listening a priority in your role, start doing monthly listening tours. These do not have to be long sessions—15 minutes is enough. The point is to actually schedule time where you meet with people informally and just let them talk.
At the beginning of the meeting, tell them, “This is just a listening meeting. For 15 minutes I just want to hear your ideas, your concerns, or anything else you’d like to share.” Then, let them talk. Don’t interrupt or dominate the conversation. In fact, only speak when the other person asks you a question. The rest of the time just listen and take notes. After the person is done talking, paraphrase what you heard. Taking only 15 minutes out of your day to listen will help you forge a greater connection with your staff and make a huge difference in employee engagement.
2. Disagree with Grace
Disagreements at work are inevitable. The key is how you handle them. Too often, leaders come across as harsh when they disagree, inadvertently making employees feel inferior or that their ideas are without merit. So rather than abruptly tell people things like, “No, that will never work,” or “You obviously don’t understand the full situation,” when you disagree with them, start by acknowledging and validating the other person’s perspective.
To do this requires that you listen attentively and then legitimize the other person’s point of view. It is most effective when you can provide at least three points of validation because that’s when the person is more likely to feel that you actually heard what they said. So, for example, if someone offers an idea for increasing profits that you think is too risky and won’t work, you could say something like, “I see that your proposal is a reflection of your commitment to finding viable options that will increase our profitability (validation #1). It’s evident that you’ve put a lot of effort into taking a look at the numbers (validation #2). And you’ve offered a compelling business case for us to consider (validation #3). We’re aligned in that we’re both looking for a committed solution. Where we differ is in how aggressive the plan should be and how much risk we should take on. Maybe that’s something we can talk about.” Remember, the magic number is three points of validation.