Four Behaviours You Must Master to be a More Flexible Leader

Leadership skills involve a range of critical behaviours that you must master to be successful. Crazy as it sounds, great leaders tend to exhibit behaviours that seem at times contradictory. For example, in the same conversation they start out as pioneering and passionate, and a few moments later they sound humble and even meek. Another example is where they show up in a very commanding, take charge way, and then at various times, even in the same conversation, they adopt a more inclusive, empathetic demeanour.

While some people might view this as flip-flopping or wishy-washy, I prefer to view it as “flexing”.

When leaders develop a more flexible range of behaviours, they connect with more people and develop larger follower-ships. And leaders today need those connections. They need to resonate with as many people/personalities as possible.

How flexible are you as a leader? Can you, in the moment, shift your behaviours…

  • From being pioneering and passionate to being humble and egoless?
  • From being commanding and take charge to being inclusive and empathetic?
  • From being resolute and firm to being affirming and supportive?
  • From being deliberate and focused on the facts to being energised and focused on emotions and feelings?
  • …and the reverse of all of these?

Leaders have a lot of learning to do…in fact, a lifetime of learning. I know some leaders who, when they made it to the top, stopped learning. Then they started to struggle and some didn’t last very long. You see, as a leader, you need to lead by example. If you want your followers to take the journey of continuously learning and growing behaviourly, then you have have to take the lead on that journey with them. You have to become a lifelong learner, and promote behavioural learning as a pathway to success.

When you do this well, you and your team will achieve sustainable growth. Learning and behavioural flexibility, for individuals and the collective, will become a habit. The pay-offs are tremendous:

  1. You will attract and retain more talent to your team
  2. Performance will improve dramatically
  3. Greater confidence and trust will develop within your team
  4. Communications will reach new levels of efficiency and effectiveness
  5. People will be much more engaged
  6. Other leaders and teams will want to learn from you and emulate your success
  7. Relationships will improve, and people will support each other in ways you could never have imagined

How can you achieve this? It all starts with you. Make a simple list of the behaviours you want to be able to “flex”, then ask your team for their help in developing those behaviours. Don’t go any further than this for the moment, just make the list and then ask your team for help.

About the Author

Brian Ward is co-founder and CEO of Affinity Consulting and Training. He is the author of Lead People…Manage Things: Master the Five Key Facets of High Performance Leadership. He is also the founder of The Management4M, an educational and training site for new supervisors and managers, and those who wish to fill in the gaps in their management and leadership competencies.

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