Are you a tough leader, or a compassionate one?

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In their eagerness to become an efficient leader, many people tend to drift towards a sort of one – dimensional persona. In some cases, someone in a leadership position seems to believe that she must appear to others to be a tough, strong, and get-it-done kind of person. In contrast, at other times, he/she overconcentrates on trying to focus on the needs of his/her people and other stakeholders and spends his/her energies in an attempt to correlate better and listen more. However, the truth is that successful leaders must acquire both a willingness and an ability to balance the need to be strong when necessary, with genuine caring and compassion. This symmetry must be both from one’s head and his/her heart.

In other words, people must genuinely direct their actions using both brain and heart, unlike those that simply use empty rhetoric to seem to be doing so.

What does toughness in leadership really mean? Does it mean being uncaring and abrasive, or does it relate to agility, ability, and attitude? Successful leaders face hurdles nearly every day, and they must do so with an agile attitude, where they will do whatever is needed in the best interests of their firm, regardless of facing criticism or personal popularity. If you want to lead meaningfully, you must progress with a combination of the correct type of caring and proactive attitude and do so without concern for individual popularity.

It must never be poll-driven but instead based on leading others in the most suitable direction. Since firms regularly face the option of either continuously evolving or succumbing to pressure, significance and sustainability, it is incumbent upon an efficient leader to focus on telling the truth, even when it might be ungracious. This toughness must drive one’s inner strength and courage to maintain the ability to take action when others might be either unable or unwilling.

However, simply possessing this tough mindset without also focusing on presenting value to others while maintaining one’s personal values, does not lead to successful leadership. This means that one must express her empathy (putting yourself in the place of those under you, and feeling as they would, so you can best know their needs) realistically and honestly, prioritizing substance over rhetoric. One can never lead powerfully unless she genuinely cares about others and places their requirements ahead of her personal preferences. This requires both the responsibility and the attitude/ discipline to become an efficient listener, spending far more effort and energy listening than speaking. In other words, leaders listen to and speak to others, rather than simply speaking at them!

Are you able and willing to balance these actions and characteristics? What’s more essential, your relevance or your image?

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