Why Calm Management is Good Management
These five underrated leadership qualities can serve you well.
Posted January 3, 2016
They’re not the classic high-octane leadership qualities we most often hear about: charisma, authority, the ability to inspire, and so on. But the following 5 underrated qualities can be of real long-term value in the day-to-day trenches of running an effective business.
Calmness when making hard decisions – It’s easy to make a decision but not always easy to make a good decision. It’s easy to go off half-cocked, not always easy to stay rational and logical in the heat of the moment. Hiring, firing, layoffs, conflict resolution, competition for scarce resources, and a multitude more… business never has a shortage of hard decisions. If a really tough emotion-filled decision could wait – at least a little while – I always felt a constructive tactic was to “sleep on it” and see how all of the options appeared from a well-rested perspective in the light of a new day.
Grace under pressure – A first cousin of the “calmness” noted above. The ability to perform well and with grace when times are hardest, popularized many years ago in the fiction of Ernest Hemingway, is extremely valuable in business (as well as war). Anyone who’s been around business for a while has seen how employees respond to leaders who grow quickly and unnecessarily agitated – and has also seen the respect accorded leaders who keep their cool and do the right thing in stressful situations. Handling stress effectively is always a valuable executive quality.
Consistency – “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” goes the famous quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson. I don’t disagree – except to add that consistency can also be an asset when it comes to the management of other humans. Few qualities alienate employees more than leaders who go alternately hot and cold. Enthusiastic and encouraging one day, then distant and aloof (often driven by the stresses they’re under) the next. Employees want leadership they can count on. Consistent behavior is the mark of maturity and self-confidence. It engenders trust, and trust yields productivity.
Persistence – Very little of lasting value in business is accomplished easily, on the first try. What usually matters far more is how one perseveres after disappointment. There’s a great story of Thomas Edison’s reaction as he watched a massive fire destroy his plant. “It’s all right,” he said remarkably calmly. “We’ve just got rid of a lot of rubbish.” Undeterred, he quickly rebuilt, and had a strong year the next. While such legendary persistence may be hard to muster, even smaller doses will always serve one well.
Judgment - Call it “experience,” “seasoning,” “business savvy” – whatever the term, they all add up to judgment, that hard-to-define but critical ability effective leaders use to make decisions that most often yield positive outcomes. With it, one’s opinion will often be sought. Without it, one may well not be in a leadership role long.
Other underrated leadership qualities? I’m always interested to hear readers’ ideas…
This article first appeared at Forbes.com.
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Victor is author of The Type B Manager: Leading Successfully in a Type A World.
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