Everyone is familiar of the catchphrase, made famous by Donald Trump in “The Apprentice”. The common perception of charismatic top corporate leaders is high–power individuals that are extremely objective, highly confident in their viewpoints, and have strong beliefs in their own abilities. They are also individuals who are not afraid to upset and dismiss people. These stereotypical traits are perpetuated in movies, soap operas and in reality shows.
However, what seems like objective mindedness, confidence, and strong self-belief could actually be; an unmistakable lack of empathy, a strong bias over his/her own viewpoints over those working under them and also, self-centeredness. Some might even say they possess a lack in their ability to correctly perceive other perspectives.
The truth is, as an individual grows in stature and position within the corporate ladder, the demand for interpersonal and relational skills increases ten-fold. Being able to see, understand, and deal effectively with other perspectives is key to being a successful leader. This largely involves an important behaviour, and that is, through empathy.
Empathy, compassion and overall self-awareness are the three main qualities of a developed and matured mind. The clarity from self-knowledge fine-tunes one’s understanding of perspectives, values, aims, and personality traits of others. Resilient to stress, a mature leader is able to manage internal conflicts, connect with both members of the senior management team as well as the subordinates and still maintain a personal well-being – which stimulates a more panoramic view of the problems and unpredictable challenges that daunts the leader.
a mature leader is able to manage internal conflicts, connect with both members of the senior management team as well as the subordinates and still maintain a personal well-being
Increased power tends to make one self-centered, self-assured and more prone to dismiss or misunderstand the viewpoints of those who lack authority. The ability to correctly perceive others and their insights are diminished with increased power. Increased power diminishes the ability to be empathic an compassionate, because power appears to affect the “mirror system” of the brain, which is responsible for experiencing what another person is experiencing.
Leaders need to build awareness of one-self, through honest self-appraisals that relate to emotional strengths and vulnerabilities, emphasising the importance of overcoming self-interest and delusion, and the need to be open to personal growth and development. It is tempting for leaders to believe that they are not the one who needed change. With that said, leaders need to remain ready for change, but also to know what to change, on a personal level.
Once the three qualities of a matured mind is developed, you cease to be simply a set of skills performing a role but instead, become an enabler for everyone who works around you in order to achieve a greater synergy and effectiveness.
Are you ready for the intangible demands that being a leader entails?
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