Ask someone to describe a good leader, and you’ll probably hear words like “trustworthy,” “decisive,” “smart,” and “charismatic.” A word you probably won’t hear is “thoughtful.”
Who would claim that being thoughtful is a bad thing? Likely no one, but still, “thoughtfulness” doesn’t quite top the list of “Must Have Leadership Traits.”
What’s going on here? In my humble opinion, thoughtfulness should be a bonafide leadership requirement. Thoughtfulness and high emotional intelligence (EQ) go hand in hand, and we all know that EQ is key to effective leadership.
Perhaps you need additional convincing? No problem. Here’s a bunch of ways thoughtfulness contributes to good leadership.
We’d hope that all leaders would endeavor to choose their words carefully, but they don’t. Sadly, one of the privileges of leadership is having the power to speak recklessly without suffering the natural consequences of doing so. Instead, others with less power are left to clean up the mess the thoughtless words produced. Impact and not intent is what matters here. Even without meaning to do harm, a few carelessly spoken (or written) words can inflict damage that’s not easily repaired.
According to the old saying, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Yet, preparation for management rarely includes education about how to use power responsibly. The end result is not always pretty. In his book Somebodies and Nobodies, Robert Fuller describes how the problem of rankism – de-fined as “rank-based discrimination” – is the root of much workplace conflict. As careful as they are with speech (see above), thoughtful leaders take care that their actions don’t abuse the trust of their peers, sub-ordinates, or superiors.
Peruse the job boards, and you’re likely to come across any number of companies proudly advertising themselves as “fast paced.” Agility and flexibility are desirable qualities for our modern businesses, but pa-tience is important, too. Patience reduces mistakes and makes time for everyone who should be included in decision making to be included in decision making. This not only results in better problem solving, it reduces conflict, too.
Unfortunately, some leaders are more adept at creating chaos than calm. While it’s easy to confuse drama with doing, the best leaders are able to keep a cool head during the most stressful situations. They don’t burden everyone else with their upset feelings, which is also a good way to ensure that subordinates don’t, in turn, pass any negative energy on to their staff.
Employees appreciate it when employers takes a sincere interest in their personal well being, and thoughtful leaders do just that. Their consideration, empathy, and fairness begets loyalty and increased productivity, because workers never mind going “above and beyond” for a manager who’s proven to be a reliable advocate. Less thoughtful leaders struggle here because their natural leadership styles don’t lend themselves to slowing down and taking the time needed to forge these connections – should they even see the value in doing so.
For the most part, ours is a “more, more, more” and “get it done faster, faster, faster” society, but reflective leaders capable of deep thought are very much needed. These leaders inject stability and humanity to the workplace, and they allow room for employees to bring their best and whole selves to the job, which benefits us all.