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The Responsibility of a Leader

Many leaders are unaware of just how responsible they are for what goes on around them. There's a lot of moving parts in their day to day and a lot of fires to put out. It is easy to get lost in the and details and not tend to what really makes the biggest difference: themselves.

I believe that a big problem in business these days is that most leaders are pretty unaware of just how important they are in the equation of “business”. They have not yet realised how the way they interact and communicate is and how it affects the way their teams function.

As managers are going about their business and busy-ness, they are a model for everyone and they set the tone for how others work and feel at work. It is their smallest actions and words that people are constantly taking in- creating motivation or demotivation, camaraderie or animosity.

The big secret is that a manager's interpersonal skills actually affects the more intangible aspects of business like efficiency and efficacy of their teams.

Leaders are constantly being scrutinised in the subtlest of ways: how they show up, what kind of style of communication they have, how they approach difficulty (or not), how they handle tensions and blowups, how empathetic they are to others’ difficulties and even failings. It affects morale, it affects how people show up and collaborate- and ultimately it affects the bottom line.

A human neurobiological reality is that (very simply put) people’s brains are constantly scanning for feelings of safety or threat in their environment. In my experience, the greatest factor in whether people feel well at work and are willing to give their best is the leadership’s human touch-- or lack of it. Are people a priority? Or are they a commodity or an instrument to get the job done, to get the next project done, to achieve the goal? There is so much that isn’t spoken but sensed anyways.

My work tells me that what makes all the difference is when managers improve their interpersonal skills and communication skills, when they develop their ability to be empathic, their emotional intelligence, when they can connect with the person in front of them authentically. These are not fluffy or soft skills. It is much easier to handle practical problems than human problems. For many people it is a vulnerable space in which they feel very uncomfortable. But it is one worth going and being supported through to the other side. The benefits, both personal and financial are magnificent.