Monday, October 7, 2013

Tips on Being a Good Leader

Being a good leader requires a combination of people skills that generate respectful relationships. A good leader knows how to elicit the best from her team because she sees each person as a valuable, and unique, member of the group. This involves the following basic interactive, team-building skills:

First, recognize how all members of the group are more alike than not. Everybody wants to be successful, avoid failure, and be happy. Each team member has more in common with one another than not. That’s why team building activities that group people by common interests, demographics, age, or family lifestyle are so effective at bringing different types of people together and helping them to get to know one another. The activity shows what they have in common. This works because initially we’re all a little afraid of the unknown. Finding out that team members are a lot like you reduces anxiety.

Next, showcase the unique contribution each team member has to offer in two ways:  a) identify the skills, talents, and traits of each member such as by reviewing their past work, by talking with each one individually, or by asking each one to tell the group about one of their most satisfying work experiences; and b) recognize that people can be very different and have very distinctive ways of contributing. Discover what each person does well and offer opportunities for them to do it. For example, if someone enjoys technology, don’t ask them to do marketing or sales. Avoid asking a team member to do something they dislike or don’t feel competent at. For example, don’t ask a shy, self-conscious person to give an oral presentation to a large group.

Finally, interact with diplomacy using physical, mental, and emotional contact. Physical contact includes smiling, nodding, and making eye contact. With people you know well, it could include a touch on the arm. These gestures let the person know you’re paying attention. Mental contact includes using words your listeners can understand and not jargon that could be misunderstood. Take ownership of your thoughts by using “I” statements and checking out assumptions.  Emotional contact includes identifying how someone could be feeling and asking clarifying questions to be sure you’ve gotten the message.

A good leader uses these simple and basic ways of interacting. People enjoy working with and for a good leader because they feel visible, acknowledged, and appreciated.
Ellen Diana is a psychologist, author of the Lucky Dreamer Tip Series, and co-author of the Charge up Your Life series of self-help books. She has 30 years’ experience working with children, adults, couples, and families in schools and in private practice in Scottsdale, Arizona. Helping women to evolve into their best selves through personal growth and self-awareness is a passion of hers. Ellen raised three successful children as a single parent and so has special interests in mentoring other women in transition and helping parents to raise resilient children. Contact Ellen at or through her website

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