Good leaders understand that how they communicate is almost as important as what they communicate. Their keen self-awareness and social intelligence, which anyone in a leadership role can develop, remind them that what they say matters.
People are watching their leaders' actions, but also listening to their choice of words. What is said to team members will be taken to heart and leaders will be measured against their own words.
Here are three things you will never hear a good leader say:
"I'm above this. Someone else can have that conversation."
Conflict exists in every business or workplace, whether you like it or not. And leaders are not above confrontation; it comes with the job.
Good leaders know that once a major conflict gains momentum, it can be hard to stop. They aren't afraid to have tough conversations and ask difficult questions before things get worse.
For example, if an employee has a performance problem, good leaders address it right away. Having the courage to confront a situation for the good of the relationship, rather than lettings things fester, will go a long way to avoid further drama.
"What the hell is wrong with you?"
Ever been involved in a work situation where someone made a mistake, maybe even a costly one? Who hasn't -- people are human and make mistakes all the time. The question is, how did you manage your response?
A decade ago, I worked with a manager who had a bad reaction to something gone south, threw a temper tantrum, and went on the warpath of blaming and finger-pointing. His behavior set people off and ruined team morale. Some employees threw in their resignations in response.
Expressing anger and disappointment are natural emotions. But good leaders don't let their emotions get the best of them by losing control or shaming team members. So what's a good technique to put into practice? It comes from your emotional intelligence: self-control.
Why does self-control matter? When conflicts happen, the question behind self-control is whether one is able to manage their emotions and behavior to a positive outcome. According to emotional intelligence guru Daniel Goleman, "Drama is very low and productivity is very high" in work settings under the guidance of such leaders.
If leaders have no capacity for self-control, the outcome is not good. One of the major obstacles stemming from a lack of self-control is unfiltered anger. As I've stated, anger is a normal, human emotion. But it needs to be expressed in a healthy way. There's a place and time for appropriate anger, and we all have to learn how to manage it, or it will manage us. Self-control takes care of that.
"I don't need help. I'll handle this problem on my own."
Leaders who steamroll ahead to solve every problem that comes their way, without asking for help from their team members -- some who may be more qualified to handle the problem -- will overextend themselves and eventually burn out.
That's the damage done on the side of the leader. And the employees? They get demotivated and question their role on the team since they may not exactly feel trusted to solve the hard stuff.
Good leaders will empower their team members by embracing a coaching mindset when a team member comes to them with a problem, asking open-ended questions like "What do you think might be getting in your way?" or "What's another way to look at this?"