When you are new at leadership, it can be challenging to navigate leading teams today. As a freshly promoted leader, you ask yourself, “How close is too close?”
It’s Friday afternoon. The countdown has started. There’s less than an hour until closing time. A few of your colleagues have mentioned going out after work. Wearing masks and socially distanced — of course — and you consider joining them. Your only hesitation is your recent promotion.
The job title change that is associated with it has changed your work dynamic. With your new leadership position comes more responsibility – professionally and personally. There is a line drawn between building rapport and maintaining healthy working relationships while presenting yourself as an objective leader for your team.
Professionalism is Your Priority
Whatever your profession, it is critical that professionalism is your priority when leading teams. When accepting a leadership role within business, an unspoken rule must be followed. It is a harsh reality to accept, but you are no longer in a position to make friends. Your team is looking to you for leadership — not a good time.
Your organization is depending on you to make solid decisions and build professional relationships. By not behaving in this manner, you set yourself up for potential favoritism accusations and other unwanted circumstances. In addition, and as a woman, it tends to feel like you are under a microscope more often your male counterparts. Here are four tips to build your professional persona:
4 Tips to Build Your Professionalism
1. Adopt a diplomatic approach. Diplomacy, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is “the skill in handling affairs without arousing hostility.” First, when you adopt a diplomatic approach with others, you are choosing to manage the relationships around you with tact. Regardless of the situation, you are controlling your emotions and leading with the necessary information to handle an issue or conflict.
2. Show respect toward everyone. Respect is so important that it is taught at an early age. There are even school districts that have named respect as an expectation for students from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Maintaining healthy working relationships is essential – even in tumultuous times. No matter how much history you may have with someone from your team, it is crucial to be respectful.
3. Follow up and follow through. If you say you are going to handle an issue or discuss a suggestion that has been presented to you, this action needs to happen. When you do this, others will feel confident in following you.
4. Dress the part. There is a reason the catchphrase “dress for success” is popular. The clothing you wear to work does matter and represents you as a professional. Remember, you are your brand, and you are responsible for building your reputation. You can show your leadership style through your style of fashion.
Empathy Is a Key to Your Success
In leadership, empathy should be shown and practiced regularly. It is a key to success. According to Jamil Zaki in the Harvard Business Review article, “Making Empathy Central to Your Company Culture,” over 80% of the 150 CEOs surveyed recognized empathy as a key to a successful workplace environment. Empathy is key when leading teams.
Although empathy is similar to kindness, it also focuses on others’ perceptions and viewpoints. Actively listening to your employees and making an effort to understand where they are coming from is essential.
Empathy builds trusted relationships and supports positive rapport. It is critical for any successful leadership relationship, and your team members will appreciate your empathetic, professional approach. Modeling and showing empathy toward others in the workplace will encourage the individuals around you to reflect your mannerisms.
Remember Why You Chose Leadership
When accepting a leadership role, this should not be taken lightly. Leadership may come with additional dollar signs attached, but it’s more than that. Leadership is about inspiring and supporting others. Leading teams is rewarding, as you encourage your team members to become the best versions of themselves.
So, when answering the question when leading teams today — “How close is too close?” — understand that your team is counting on you to put your personal “stuff” aside. They are depending on you to be a professional who practices empathy and influences them to do their best. That will promote successful relationships with your team.