Be The Leader You Wish You Had

Nina Muhleisen | 16 May 2017


Leadership courses can go one of two ways; they either resonate with you or you want to hide underneath the desk and wish that you were watching grass grow.

I was on a two-day course Management skills for managers and leaders and I was apprehensive, to say the least. Well, this time I was lucky, I found a course that hit the mark.

I came out of day 1 with my head spinning there was so much content, how could I possibly remember it all? Also being told that what you don’t implement in the first 48 hours, you probably will never use – the pressure was on!

Leadership styles

The first thing to highlight is that everyone has their own leadership style and understanding what yours is, is critical.  Leadership is all about being authentic, you can’t be Richard Branson but you can be an awesome version of yourself.  By shining that mirror to your own face and understanding what are your strengths and your weaknesses, you can start to build a plan for success.

In a study completed by Zenger Folkman 2012, the traits of exceptional leaders were reviewed and came out with three interesting findings.

  1. Of the 16 traits highlighted, you only need 4-5 to be an exceptional leader. This means that you don’t need to be brilliant at everything. Instead of understanding what you bring the table and then surround yourself with people who complement your skills (i.e. they bring the skills that you don’t have).
  2. There is a mismatch between how leaders rate themselves, what makes an exceptional leader and what the people want.
  3. The most effective leaders are emotionally intelligent.

Emotional intelligence is critical, as a leader you need to not only be aware of your emotions but be able to control and manage them appropriately for the situation you are in – especially when under pressure. It allows us to turn intention into action and make rational decisions not for our own benefits but for those that we are connected with.

Increasing our emotional intelligence

We can increase our emotional intelligence through 4 key areas of development:

  1. Self-awareness – being able to connect with your own emotions is important in understanding how your emotions impact your thoughts and behaviour
  2. Self-management – once you are aware of your emotions, you can then begin to manage them. Understanding when to control impulsive behaviours and how to generate positive outcomes and interactions with others.
  3. Social awareness – being socially aware allows you to pick up on the emotions and feelings of others and respond accordingly. This is an important skill, you can’t lead a team to delivery if you can’t relate to who they are and therefore their behaviours and actions. Empathy is therefore essential for social awareness
  4. Relationship management – Once you are able to understand the emotional and nonverbal cues of others you can then build more meaningful and effective relationships. Relationship management, however, is not just connecting but being able to effectively communicate at all times through negotiating, conflict resolution and motivating others to work towards a common goal.

Leading is such an important job, and as said by Simen Sinek on his recent tours of Melbourne “Leadership is a choice, be the leader you wished you had”