Leading makes you visible and more prone to criticism. It would not be incorrect to say that leading is about keeping your eyes on the goal, setting common causes, dealing with the stress, controlling your emotions, being someone whom others want to emulate, taking a hard-hitting stand and getting others to rally behind you. Now, that’s a lot to do for a single person, what’s the best way to get better at leading? By following these simple tips, you can hone your ability to lead. Let us look at them one by one.

Leading is fraught with risk

While leading is rewarding it comes with its share of the unnecessary limelight. A case in point is the politicos, and the examination they face, the intensity of scrutiny and expectation may be lesser in your case, but it will not be zero. So better be prepared for this in advance, as a leader, you have to be internally secure and feel good about yourself. You should have the ability to reassure yourself that you are on the right track before you start to gain followership or supporters for your journey.

Once you embark on the journey to lead, people will have varying opinions about how you should proceed. Take their feedback with a pinch of salt. Don’t let criticism prevent you from taking the lead, however, don’t be blind to the right suggestions. To do this, break the journey into smaller milestones, and after completing a milestone, reflect and see what could have been done better, this will indicate to others that you are open to continuous improvement.

Selling your leadership

While some people may welcome what you say and want to do, others will take an opposing stand and try to sabotage your position. It is important to retain your composure and start selling your leadership to dilute the opposition, in case you choose to confront them and get drawn into the battle, you would have reduced your chances to lead.

To sell your leadership, tell them about the result, however, don’t specify how you will get to it.  Present the outcomes, targets and specify how the how to get there, After that open your end game to their suggestions and welcome their ideas, be it right or wrong. During this stage, you have to allow them to fill in the blanks, ask questions and disagree with you, make sure that you don’t appear to be impatient during this activity. At the same time allow your opponents to save face, concede the small points and invite criticism. You have to help your competitors to figure out how to win and back you without looking like a fool because of their earlier stand. In this activity, things do get heated up; you need to keep to the facts and the problem at hand and steer clear of any personal clashes.

Don’t get agitated

One of the biggest precursors to being a leader is the ability to manage emotions under all kinds of situations. Your emotional outburst, even though being genuine may make others believe that you have problems with tight situations. It’s important that you map as to how you react under stress or emotional duress. Once you are aware of your reactions, learn to recognize them as soon as they start, and substitute the response with something that is more neutral.

Get ready to do a one to one

Leading always has its share of one to one confrontation. You want one thing, and other party wants something else, in such a situation, it is best to keep it to facts and remember that you will not always win. The key is to stay objective and listen as long as the other person talks, sometimes the other party may talk themselves to your point of view if you let them talk long enough. In such situation, you have to strive to understand and not judge and then restate their points until they say it’s right.

After you have completed this activity with major areas of disagreement  find something to agree with in each of the areas, however, small that may be. Try to find common ground, and in the end, you will be left with points that did not get resolved, document those and give a copy to your opponent.

Pulling the plug

Even after all this if everything fails, you may have to pull your opponent aside and say, “ I have listened to all your objections and have tried to understand them, but the show must go on. Are you on or off?”

In such situations always follow the rules of dealing with conflict, depersonalize it and focus on the problem and not the person. Try one last time to make your case, note the person’s objections but do not concede anything, be very clear that now is not the time for negotiation. Give the person a day to think it over. Worst case if the individual is your direct report, you may have to ask the person to leave your division or the company and if the person is a peer or colleague inform your manager of the logger jam and proceed without his/her support.

Jappreet Sethi

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