How to Be a Great Leader: The 3 Keys to Managing Yourself

Businessman Thinking

By Thuy Sindell

When we talk about leadership development, we often focus on the skills and qualities that have to do with leading others. But this ignores a major aspect of being a great leader: Being able to lead yourself.

In fact, out of the 28 leadership competencies that are essential to leadership success, seven are related to being a self-leader. Most leaders, however, ignore these skills, making them less balanced and effective.

By understanding what these skills are and how they impact leading others, people can become better, more well-rounded leaders. Here’s a deeper dive into three of the most important of these seven competencies for leaders to improve right away:

1. Emotional balance

Many people believe that a leader has to be stoic and hide their emotions. This is not true. In fact, our research has found that both men and women believe the feminine expression of emotional control—acknowledgement of emotions and allowing proper levels to come through—is a more effective way to lead.

So now, the question then becomes: What is a proper level of emotion?

Of course, weeping when you’re overwhelmed or screaming when you’re upset is too much. But it is important for employees to see that you’re human. This way, when they’re having a hard time or celebrating a success they’ll know you can empathize with them.

One of the best ways to effectively express your emotions is to pay attention to the words you use and their connotations. For example, instead of saying: “That’s a good idea,” say: “This idea excites me.” This signals to employees that you don’t just like their suggestion, but are emotionally invested in it.

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2. Integrity

Integrity is essential for a leader. Employees want to know when they’re put in a difficult situation, their leader will make a fair and ethical decision. In fact, a 2016 Robert Half survey found that integrity was the most important leadership quality. Seventy-five percent of employees ranked it as the most important attribute for a leader to have.

But integrity can mean different things to different people. Our research found that most people say being fair and concerned with doing the right thing is their preferred definition. As a leader, one of the best ways you can do this is by putting your people first.

Revisit your company’s core values and think about how they positively impact the lives of employees. Then, when you’re faced with a tough decision, reflect on which of your options best aligns with those values. Also, be sure that all employees know and understand these core beliefs. This way, when they see how you acted, they can appreciate and understand how it was in everyone’s best interests.

3. Self-confidence

This might be the hardest skill to hone. Being self-confident doesn’t come easily to everyone. There’s a thin line between seeming self-assured and coming off as a show-off.

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