3 Keys To Becoming a Popular Leader
By: Serena Mon de Vienne Navigating the power dynamics in a workplace can be hard. If you want to be a valued leader and colleague at the same time, you need to focus on your style of communication. The most valued leaders are the ones who communicate so that the employee always feels respected, no matter how much power they possess. Many leaders tend to get stuck in constant listening and seek consensus–no matter the task or subject. Here they lose both speed for the group and trust from the group.
The key to a happy workplace is maintaining a balanced dialogue in the group, and it demands that you as a leader communicate in a way that is perceived as equal. What I mean to say by that is, that all your colleagues need to be met on the same level. No matter what phase the group is in, or what situation might arise, the way of communicating should be constant.
The equal dialogue happens when everyone is aloud to think and feel whatever it is they do–whenever they do.
How does one do this? Well, the equal dialogue happens when everyone is aloud to think and feel whatever it is they do–whenever they do. An open minded atmosphere might be another way to put it. Where everyone’s feelings and thoughts are important, but you are not always allowed to act on them.
As a leader you will sometimes have to try to handle people's behavior when it crosses a line. Just know that you should never question or downplay that person's feelings or thoughts. This sounds easy in theory, but can be very tricky in the daily dialogues. So here are some practical examples:
1. When giving directions, clarify who made the decision.
If an employee says: ”I don't understand the plan, I feel like it’s a bit unclear", be careful not to say something like ”You’re wrong, it’s clear". In order to have a constructive dialogue, the best thing is to clarify who is behind this decision. You could say ”The management team has made this decision, what is it that you feel is unclear, maybe I can explain?”.
2. Make room for negotiations.
If an employee says "I don’t want to do this project”, it would be bad for a manager to give an impatient answer like ”This project really isn't boring nor hard!”. Often, this type of response comes out because managers themselves become uncertain cause the employee is uncertain.
However, if the manager can lean into the emotion and put words on it, the discomfort will decrease (up to 50 %) and it will be easier to handle the issue constructively. So to make a situation like this clear, you first have to know if it’s at all possible for the employee to say no to the project. If there is no other alternative, and it needs to be done this way, the manager needs to be firm but understanding. You could say ”I really see that you would prefer not to do this project. Unfortunately we will have to lead this project for the next six months and it isn't something we can change. Now, how can we make this project feel better for you?”
3. Accept any feeling, but don't accept any behavior.
People have feelings, this isn’t something we need to change. Rather we need to learn to handle the result of those feelings. As a manager you can promote certain types of behavior and let employees know that other types of behavior is unacceptable.
Example 1: An angry employee screams: "I don't understand how you can ..." Manager (wrong answer): "Don't get angry now." Manager (a better answer may be): "You get to be as angry as you want, but I don’t want you to scream at our office."
Example 2: Employee: "I know I got a pay raise last month, but I’m not happy and I want to revisit the conversation again." Manager (wrong answer): "How can you even ask for that? What are you even thinking?" Manager (a better answer may be): "I hear you would like a raise again, but there will be no more salary discussions until next year.”
The key is never shying away from a hard discussion. Don’t close the door on your colleagues when he or she is giving emotions or thoughts that are odd or provocated. Keep it open and instead repeat something they are saying, give your observation on their reactions or ask them a question that will go deeper in their emotion or thought. When they feel heard and respected by you they will also respect you as a leader. If you succeed in this you have set the foundation for a culture that encourages openness and responsibility, and you will be a popular leader. Good luck!
About the author: Serena Mon de Vienne is Vice President and a Rhetoric consultant at ”Snacka Snyggt” She has a bachelor's degree in rhetoric from Södertörn University, as well as a degree from the Ballet Academy in Stockholm.