Good leaders are expected to be problem solvers when customers or subordinates come to them with problems. Leaders need to be coaches and know how to facilitate problem solving for collaborative solutions. On occasion, leaders must take the lead on getting to a solution when there seems to be no progress. In either case, leaders need to be good listeners and have empathy.
When one of your resources, or any resource, approaches you with a problem they must be listened to with empathy. Empathy builds trust. Advice is best taken from someone that is trusted. Good leaders do not argue with people in a manner they feel negated, that they are not important, or that they are not incompetent. Problem solving with data is constructive analysis and not arguing. Everything I have observed and read that works well for leadership also says to remain not only professional but be nice. It is all about relationships to get things done in the most efficient manner . The resources that are led by you need to know that they are valued.
Customers need to know they are valued also. If customers are requesting something that seems out of reach because of cost and technical feasibility, then they need sincere partnership to find a solution that satisfies them. Their needs and problems are why you exist. It is an opportunity for you to deliver and prove your value.
A leader will increase their influence and impact if all people in any interaction are treated with dignity and respect. The opportunities to prove your leadership are fleeting. Leaders do not have the opportunity to make an impact every minute of the day, but when it arises, you need to be your best for everyone. Each of these moment-by-moment opportunities are critical because of the near permanent affect they have on the perception of your leadership capability.
Dr. Richard Boyatzis of Case-Western University echoes the importance of these opportunities, noting that essentially 50% of leadership does not add value in anyone’s point of view and 20–30% adds value in one person’s point of view. Dr. Boyatzis concludes that potentially 70–80% of leadership can be removed with effectively no negative impact or that followers believe it even runs more smoothly if leadership is ineffective. Dr. Boyatzis reminds us that leadership is a relationship and thus requires focus on the interaction. I suggest leaders need to be mindful of every interaction because leaders are judged with a keen eye and don’t get many second chances.