The 5 Ingredients You Need to Build Your Leadership Skills (Part 4)

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So far, we’ve been talking about leadership ingredients such as: vision, communication (listening) and feedback.

[If you haven’t read about them go and get up to date with this one: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.]

Time to look at the fourth ingredient today: Influence!

Now, I will start with this: you can only influence as much as you let yourself be influenced by others!

Yes, I know, maybe it seems counter intuitive, but here’s why it’s not.

The 5 Ingredients for Leadership:
Ingredient 4 –
Be Influenced So You Can Influence!

ingredients-to-build-your-leadership-skills-part-4

1. Let yourself be influenced.

First off, as a leader, you need data that helps you make well-informed decisions. If you want to influence on a larger scale, that is.

What’s the best way to get that data?

Well, check with your team!

They are there because they are ALL leaders in what it is they’re responsible for.

We expect that they take accountability and responsibility for their actions and results.

So then why not include them in the conversation when making decisions that affect them?

And what’s the best way to get that data? Well, learn how to listen, get the feedback and then decide what to do with it!

It’s funny, isn’t it, how, when we talk about feedback, we typically have this preconceived image of someone, usually ‘the boss’, coming and telling us we’ve done something wrong. They say it and leave it with us. And that’s it. End of conversation.

First of all, that’s not a conversation. That’s a monologue, a criticism, a line. And it certainly is not feedback.

Feedback is a dialogue. One that takes time to give and discuss. If it doesn’t take time, it’s a waste of energy, because it leads to no result.

Now, the question is, how can you make it a dialogue?

6 Steps to Receiving Feedback as a Leader:

1. Focus.

This is the hardest part, and it’s right at the beginning!

We need to learn how to listen, so you might want to revisit the article on listening now.

This means no interruptions. No escaping into defensive strategy building.. just concentrate on what is being said.

2. Reflect back: summarize and paraphrase.

Summarize key messages to demonstrate you have got the intended messages and that you are listening.

Their views are valid, even if you do not think that they are correct.

You’re looking at the same thing from two different standpoints!

3. Explore: ask, don’t assume!

You may not agree with what you hear, that’s ok, we’re not supposed to agree with everything and everyone!

Knowing this, you can simply focus on wanting to understand what is being said and why this person is reacting in this way.

Stay calm (breathing always helps), show interest and seek examples to clarify.

Ask for more information. Ask questions to find out more about the topic and, whilst they are at it, more about any other topic too.

In this part, you’ll say ‘So’ a lot!

4. Express your observations, concerns, assumptions.

Now is a good time to use some of the techniques for giving feedback.

Remember how we talked about giving negative feedback and include feelings? That’s it.

When receiving feedback, we need to express our observations, concerns, assumptions, ideas AND feelings.  

Keeping it all bottled up never helped anyone, under any circumstance.

At some point, the bubble can only burst.

Express yourselves without being defensive or aggressive. Express your honest reactions from a place of observation and care.

5. Say ‘thank you’!

They took the time to observe and think about how they express their observations. That’s one definition of caring.

It takes a lot of courage for anyone to come forward and give negative feedback, knowing that we’re not going to like what we hear, knowing that them, as ‘feedbackers’, might end up being misunderstood, judged, criticized.

Talking to each other from this place of caring about what is going to happen next always helps.

Acknowledging and respecting each other’s effort in both giving and receiving feedback, that takes that dialogue to a whole new level! A level where collaboration starts and creativity sparks. A level that takes us to the 6th step below.

6. Decide or agree on the next steps.

Now that we agree on what the issues and concerns are, we can decide on the solutions.

Feedback discussions need to be solution oriented. Anything less is not feedback.

So make your list of solutions you agreed on and decide how and when you are going to implement them.

2. Expand your own circle of influence.

Now, with all the data you have available, you’re ready to expand your own circle of influence!

Knowledge might have been power, but in the information age, shared knowledge is the real power!

When people feel heard and understood, they will be more ready to listen to and understand you. Now they’re ready to contribute. Now that they feel included in the conversation, they will feel more motivated.

So, what do you need to focus on now?

1. Work on your leadership presence, verbal and non verbal.

Remember, we will always believe what we see over what we hear!

When you think about your capacity to expand that circle of influence, make sure that you pay attention to HOW you say what you say.

Make sure you work on your leadership presence: understand how you convey your messages, notice how they are received, ask for feedback and then choose to work on the things that don’t work in your favor.

Imagine a case scenario where you’re saying something like: ‘I am so excited about this idea that you had’, but your body language will ‘communicate’ the opposite.

What do you think will happen? The other person will most likely believe those non verbal cues over the verbal ones.

Here are some questions that help you work on your presence more:

What does your body language convey when you talk to your team, or to your clients?

What’s your tone of voice?

How might the others interpret the message based on your non-verbal cues?

What is your communication style? How is it different from your audience’s style?

What would they need to hear from you? What would they not?

2. Be curious instead of needlessly authoritarian (aka defensive)!

A common example is that, when we’re passionately presenting an idea that we believe in and the others will have objections to it, we become defensive.

Approach that situation with curiosity rather than defensiveness and you’ll see some tables turning!

Some leaders fear that they need to have all the answers or otherwise that’s a sign of weakness. Nothing further from the truth!

Power is a two way street!

Are you really a leader if you have no ‘real’ followers? If they’re only following you because they have to?

And are you an authentic and rational leader if you’re not ready to follow the experts in your team when they are taking the helm? What does that say about your decision, as a leader, to hire them in the first place?

For more tips on how to boost your team leadership skills muscles, check out the All Personal online courses and live workshops here: https://allpersonallearning.thinkific.com

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Roxana Radulescu is the Founder of "All Personal", a bespoke training, coaching and consulting company that works with emerging leaders around the globe, to help them become dream bosses, build dream teams and game-changing cultures! Check out her Online leadership programs: https://allpersonallearning.thinkific.com She is a TEDx speaker, certified adult learning trainer and Master Coach, and a certified GCologist®. She holds a diploma in Learning & Development and a certificate in Human Resources from the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development in the UK. Having worked in international Magic Circle law firms for 16 years and having led the firmwide Learning & Development department for 8 years, she started her consulting business in 2017. Roxana has also designed and delivered the Workplace Culture and Communication program at York University and College Boreal in Toronto. She is also an author of online courses and e-books available on award-winning e-learning platforms!