In the first part of this blog series on Agency Leadership we focused on tips for quickly boosting your status when your agency team are looking to you to give clear, authoritative direction. But what if you’re someone who finds projecting status and authority the easy part of being an agency leader?
Think back to this quote from an agency CEO:
“I feel like I have to be someone’s best friend one minute, then give clear, authoritative direction the next.”
The agency environment requires leaders who can quickly switch between authority and credibility and compassion and approachability. Most people naturally veer towards one particular style or tend to get stuck in one type of approach. In those agency scenarios where relationships are more important than getting the job done, it’s crucial to have a glow of warmth about you in order to give those you’re speaking to the strong sense that you have their best interests at heart. Without that warmth, there’s a danger that your authority can quickly become authoritarian.
Drawing once again on Caroline Goyder’s excellent advice in her book “Gravitas: Communicate with Confidence, Influence and Authority” we know there are a number of physical tips and tricks that can help you quickly boost your status or demonstrate compassion and understanding, according to the agency scenario you find yourself facing.
Here we focus on 5 tips to help those who need to dial up the compassion in their leadership style and to ensure they project that glow of warmth as needed:
1. Focus on relationship, not task:
Anxiety can make status players very task focused and it shows up in your eyes. People will feel you’re not listening and be hurt by it. Try to let go of the job you have to get done and make time for the person you’re with. Focus your attention on them and really listen.
2. Be informal:
Be informal in the way you hold yourself. Put your weight on one foot or the other, and lean forward. Think fluid, expressive mode. Try to keep your palms open and outward in order to project greater approachability.
3. Lighten your expression:
Check your ‘resting’ face. If you tend to look a little serious, start to greet people with a real smile in your eyes.
4. See people as old friends:
Imagine your agency staff are old friends. Be genuinely pleased to see them. Try to make sure you have a listening face that is warm and interested. Tilt your head if preferred.
5. Be fascinated:
Everyone is fascinating. Find out as much as you can about your agency team. Ask questions about their lives and really listen to and remember their answers. So often we ask questions but don’t hear the answers – we’re too busy thinking about what we’re going to say next. Focus your attention on the other person, away from yourself.
Think about your own natural leadership style. Think about the agency scenarios you typically find yourself in on a day-to-day basis. Think about when you may need to boost your status and credibility and when you may need to be more approachable and compassionate.
For status and credibility:
- focus on the task and be objective and analytical
- think about the things you can physically do to boost your status – refer to part 1 of this blog series on Agency Leadership for 7 tips and tricks to guide you
For connection and compassion:
- focus on relationship and try to connect emotionally and empathetically
- think about the things you can physically do to quickly come across as more caring and compassionate – use the 5 tips above to guide you
Over the next few weeks, why not choose one thing to focus on each day and try to practice making the shift in style from authority and credibility to compassion and understanding? Notice how it works for you. Keep practicing until that shift in style becomes natural. Until you’ve gained the respect that’s required, while still retaining the like-ability factor. That’s how you’ll master the art of agency leadership and be ready for all that agency life throws at you.