Often leaders are too busy to introspect. They are so busy giving feedback that they seldom pause to take feedback about themselves. Even the well-intentioned exercises like 360-degree appraisal become mere rituals where people only say what they can get away with -after all, what goes around comes around, so who will bell the cat?
But in this whole attempt to stay politically-correct, the person who gets damaged the most is – the leader! So, as a leader, you should make a habit of pausing regularly to ask some questions whose answers you might not enjoy but will surely make you a better leader:
- Do I put people down unintentionally? While conversing, keep checking if you have used voice-volume to overpower someone or an aggressive body language to dominate others. Ask if you have abruptly ended a point or dismissed someone’s suggestion with a contemptuous expression. You may think it is just a matter of style but it puts people down.
- Do I speak more than I should? After every interaction, do a short audit of your own interpersonal skills. Ask yourself if you carried on uselessly even after you had made your point – if not boasting, may be philosophizing or intellectualizing. Ask yourself if you made disconnected points or brought threads which were not relevant.
- Do I have shifting standards? Do keep a check on your decisions and choices – whether strategic, tactical, operational or interpersonal. Of course they will vary according to many factors, yet do keep checking if they are consistent in values and if there has been a match between what you preach and practice. Also, do keep a check on possible biases creeping in.
- Do I let my internal problems spill over? Every now and then, keep checking if your own moods, complexes, insecurities, personal problems, health issues or stress level are getting spilled over into professional situations, discussions or decisions. Do learn and practice emotional intelligencefor self-managementby spotting emotions continuously.
- Do I follow one-size-fits-all approach?Are you making generalizations like “Everyone runs after money” or “Everyone wants to maximize his benefit”? Well, people are different, and each one of them keeps changing all the time. Thus, learn and apply social intelligence by observing nonverbal behavior, contextual settings and interpersonal dynamics to adapt.
Well! Introspection is a great tool for effective leadership. Use it.
Dr. Sandeep Atre (Founder-Director, Socialigence)