As a leader, balancing both compassion and assertiveness can be very difficult. Primarily, because of our own insecurities and fears. Remember, as leaders, you’re bringing yourself to work. You want to examine your insecurities and have clarity around those attributes that could hold you back. This could be your family history, trauma, or beliefs. With that knowledge, you want to ask yourself: Do I resist being more assertive because I fear rejection? Or do I resist being more compassionate because I fear the loss of control in the contempt of my staff?
Write these answers down. Once written, these attributes become more of a reality and something you have to deal with. What happens if you don’t deal with these insecurities at the root? It’s going to affect everything from your output, projects, and staff turnover in your team.
Once you’ve introspected, here are some tips to help you align better with your team and achieve a comfortable homeostasis.
Leaders might have done all the work on emotional intelligence but can still remain unaware of their own attributes and belief systems. Their team can be in so much fear of them that communication can become a one-way street. To avoid this messy situation altogether, make sure you're having 1-1 sessions with your staff.
In those 1-1s, make sure you're getting to know them and share more about how you work as well. Share with them that even in difficult times, your intention is not to harm them, but to arm them. Let them know that you're here for them and that you want to see them thrive and advance. You also need to understand that every employee communicates on a different frequency and processes information differently. Get to know the people on your team and what they hope to achieve in the organization. If you’re unsure of what you should be asking to achieve clarity, here are my suggestions:
This will grant them the floor to communicate information that will serve as key data points for the whole onboarding process (KPI’s, recruiting, onboarding, and so on.) Do your best to create an atmosphere where they feel comfortable communicating freely and without reservations.
Most employees shine when there is time for a project. Give them the green light and provide your advice as they navigate the ups and downs.
This will take time as they may not know all of their strengths or personality profiles. Start with what you know.
Communicate to them that you want to see them advance and that their weaknesses don’t connote failure.
Open the floor for them and be sure to listen and take notes as you may discern a running theme amongst your team.
Though work/life balance is difficult to come by, you want to encourage your team members to have full lives outside the office too. The question also indicates an interest in them and engenders trust.
Asking this question shows that you care about your employee's career development and are invested in their long-term success. It can also help you identify areas where your team may need additional training or support.
This will potentially set them up for a mentoring opportunity and the chance to shadow someone who they are excited to learn from. Be careful about promising any mentor/mentee relationships prematurely and be sure that expectations are communicated for each party involved.
By giving your employee the opportunity to share anything else that's on their mind, you create a space for open and honest communication. This can help you identify potential issues before they become bigger problems.
Asking this question shows that you care about your employee's goals and want to help them succeed. It also helps you identify any obstacles that may be preventing your employee from accomplishing their tasks.
Understanding what motivates your employee can help you better manage them and create a more positive work environment. Similarly, asking for suggestions for improvement shows that you value your employee's opinions and are open to feedback.
This allows you to gauge whether your employee is feeling overwhelmed or if there are any areas where they may need additional support. It can also help you identify any potential burnout before it becomes a bigger issue.
Use these questions as a guide to build a deeper understanding of the people on your team.
As a leader, don’t neglect your own needs. Like your team, you too have your own mental health that will go through highs and lows. Although it can be difficult, make sure you're practicing self-care, especially when there are projects that need to be tended to urgently. Remember that you also need to manage your own manager, supervisor, and the C-suite that might be pressuring you to get things done. If you're putting too much pressure on your team, it's a surefire sign that you're putting too much pressure on yourself. Find time in your day to do things that help you decompress. These breaks will help you bring your best energy to every interaction with your team.
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Certified Counselor & Founder
Listen Then Speak