Is it better to be feared or respected? Although most leaders would agree it's better to be the latter, many fail to realize the difference when it comes to their management style.
Instead of respecting and appreciating their people through their actions, they rule with an iron fist, are overly critical and neglect relationships. As a result, their teams constantly hover near a point of exhaustion.
It goes without saying, but this behavior ultimately leads to a dysfunctional team that lacks trust, camaraderie, and engagement.
Throughout my career, I've had the pleasure of working for some amazing leaders. Bosses that I would do anything for, not because I had to, but because I wanted to. They had a poise about them that drew others like magnets and inspired discretionary effort.
That's the main difference between fear and respect. Fear is getting someone to do something because they are afraid of the consequences. Respect is about making a connection and inspiring performance. To simplify, fear is ruling through manipulation where respect is leadership through influence.
Influence is a subtle yet powerful thing. In a universe that's mutually interdependent, influence is the driving force affecting our choices, attitudes, and beliefs.
Despite what some may think, being influential has nothing to do with titles, charm, or control. Instead, influence is gained by practicing a few emotional intelligent (EQ) habits.
In her January newsletter, Jennifer Shirkani, EQ expert, author, and Founder and CEO of Penumbra, shared three simple tips to help leaders increase their influence, regardless of title. I've added my personal twist to each.
1. Use language rich with emotion.
In my opinion, managers default to leading by fear because it's more logical. You mess this up, you suffer the consequences. However, human beings aren't logical creatures -- we're governed by emotion.
When leaders use language that elicits an emotional connection, they're speaking to our primal instincts and subconscious needs. As a result, they're more relatable, trustworthy and persuasive -- all vital components to influence.
2. Adapt to their communication style.
Effective communication is key to a healthy relationship -- let's face it, you're not going to listen to someone you don't respect. Unfortunately, finding common ground in this area is one of the most difficult things to do. We all have different needs. Some appreciate a more direct and formal method, where others prefer a more social and informal approach.
Failing to consider the other person's style results in disconnects and missed opportunities to interject your influence.
The most influential leaders understand their audience and tweak their communication style to ensure their message is delivered with optimal impact.
3. Being present.
It's impossible to use language rich with emotion or adapt to other's communication styles if you're not fully present in the conversation. In addition to helping you provide more natural and appropriate responses, being tuned in to the immediate moment ensures your non-verbals give off the right signal as well. According to several studies, only 7 percent of a message is delivered through words. Instead, 93 percent of a message is conveyed through vocal inflection and non-verbals.
We've all been there -- it's frustrating to talk to someone who doesn't maintain eye contact, is constantly distracted by their phone, or who can't pull their head out of their work long enough to finish a sentence. It's disrespectful and negatively affects their credibility.
This advice from Shirkani confirmed an important theme to influence -- to increase your effectiveness as a leader, it's not about you. Each one of these three suggestions mandates that you put the other person first. It won't be easy, but if you can act altruistically and put others first, your example will uplift and inspire others to be the best version of themselves.