What is the best skill for being a great leader?

What is the best skill for being a great leader?

Leadership happens now, in this moment. You have to stay present to lead well. While perspective about the past is valuable, if you are carrying built up resentment and anger there is a lot less room in your head and heart to lead well.

 

So how do you clear the path for yourself?  You can start by getting good at acceptance and forgiveness.

Forgiveness? I want to be clear about what I mean- let’s not confuse forgiveness with accepting apologies or reconciling. It is definitely not permission to continue with bad behavior. Forgiveness is coming to peace with the situation, letting go of the grudge (which only zaps your energy), and then moving forward wiser from the experience.

There are many ways to cultivate this skill- meditation, mindfulness, prayer. Find one that works for you to reflect on the day’s successes and failures, glean the lessons learned, and then let the rest go. The only thing we can control is our attitude and how we show up for the next challenge. Juggling worries and bitterness keeps us from being adept and agile.

Not only is this a great life skill, but it connects to your ability to lead and manage.  Is your team distracted and disconnected? Are performance reviews a dreaded recurring nightmare? Sounds like an opportunity for forgiveness for me.

When you are slow to forgive, your team notices.  Morale and productivity take a hit. Instead of focusing on the work, their attention is split by being on the defensive. They armor up against you and their coworkers because they are worried about protecting themselves. When they doubt your confidence in them, their engagement drops when old sticky issues stay open. Whether or not you planned on firing them, they are much likelier to look for another job.

When you are quick to forgive, you can diffuse the emotion of the situation and focus on taking thoughtful action instead of reacting to emotions.  Paired with purposeful communication, you can create a strong culture.  Your team will focus on the work. If and when things go sideways, mistakes can be acknowledged and direction reset. You will clear the emotional landscape for your team. Your team will trust your feedback when they know where they stand with you.

To be a great leader, you need to show up as your best self. Your team is your competitive advantage. So make it simple for them to show up as their best by practicing the art of forgiveness. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish without the mystery and drama.