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Leading your Feelings, too

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In my career, I have had the luxury to see and be part of many different people organizations, ranging from a paper mill shift to a government situation room. Although tasks are vastly different, leadership presents itself in surprisingly similar ways.

The best kind of a leader is first and foremost able to bring the best out of people, while empathically and individually supporting them in their own career path and competence realm. However, there are many pitfalls in this approach, and I have often encountered almost burned-out managers who feel that they fail their organization and people, and just drag on day by day.

According to my observation, most new managers have difficulties in managing their own feelings – especially empathy, what comes to evaluating and guiding subordinate work. Many times, one or two subordinates consume the lionshare of the so-called management bandwidth, which causes others, usually the high-performing individuals, to feel unappreciated and demotivated – which in turn can turn them into those high bandwidth consumers. Even in a team of 10, this kind of dynamics easily derails the whole unit.

As a leader, you must maintain the human situational awareness across your team at all times, and ensure that you distribute your attention evenly and justly. When your people have issues in their personal life and you adjust their work accordingly, always remember that you’re equally responsible for those who share less of the private life with their boss or colleagues.

However, being equal is not a silver bullet, as overdoing it may lead to a slowly degrading, communist-like environment. You also must have your antennae out for pushing people to exceptional performances, based on their individual skills and passions.

Leadership is really hard. Many leaders get away by just using a fraction of their team’s capabilities, and sometimes that performance even becomes an industry norm. So your leadship can matter for a century.

//Pasi

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