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Want to Become the Type of Leader Other People Want to Work For? Start by Mastering 3 Powerful Strategies.

Have you ever worked for a leader who doesn’t handle stress well? Trust me, it’s not a great experience—and it certainly doesn’t bring out the best in people. On the other hand, working for a leader who responds well under pressure is a great experience.

How leaders handle stress is one key way to sort the great ones from the not-so-good ones. A leader who responds under stress, instead of reacting, conveys the reassuring feeling that you’re on the right team—that we’re not in panic mode, regardless of what’s happening.

When leaders don’t handle stress well, however, it creates stress in their teams. I call those leaders screamers, and a screamer always screams. It may not be verbal, and that doesn’t matter. When someone is screaming on the inside, others can see it. They may sweat or curse under their breath; I once had a boss who calmed himself down at the end of the day with a few drinks at his desk before driving home drunk.

If you are a screamer—and a lot of leaders are—you will eventually drive good people away and turn the rest of your team toxic. However, by mastering three powerful strategies, you can learn how to stop being a screamer and, instead, become the type of leader that other people want to work for.

#1: Lead With Kindness

What does kindness mean in the context of leadership? First and foremost, it means leading with compassion for others. By that, I mean demonstrating that people come first, ahead of the mission and vision. 

If your people understand the mission and vision, they will get things done, and done right. But if you put the mission and vision ahead of the people, dragging them rather than leading them, they’ll resist. It’s human nature. Leading with kindness means coaching and providing the support and guidance others need from you to succeed in their jobs.

Finally, kindness means leading with an awareness that you are there to serve the interests of the organization as a whole, not a minority—and certainly not a minority of one, yourself. An organization as a whole embodies many different values and points of view, likes and dislikes, and you can’t impose yours on others. 

The people who make up your organization are its most important element. When you put “me” into the equation, others see right through it, and it’s a recipe for disaster.

#2: Hold People Accountable

What leading from kindness doesn’t mean is also important. It doesn’t mean that employees get a free ride. They need to be held accountable for their actions. Sometimes the kindest thing you can do is share honest feedback with someone who isn’t a good fit so they have the opportunity to start over at another organization. 

The same holds true for falling short of their goals at a certain point. You’ll find that holding others and yourself accountable is contagious too, provided—as always—that you respond, not react, when things don’t go according to plan.

At Boulder Crest, we detail the core values of our organization in the first pages of our team handbook: integrity, selflessness, mission-focused, empathy, courage, and growth-oriented. We put them in the employee agreement, too. 

We make clear that if you don’t live up to these values, and they aren’t values that you embrace, then this isn’t the place for you to work. We don’t want screamers anywhere in our organization, and embracing and prioritizing these core values helps to keep them out.

#3: Lead From Passion

Along with leading from kindness, you also need to lead from passion. Obviously, I’m not talking here about being passionate about your favorite football team. I’m talking about that sense of internal satisfaction and fulfillment that comes from waking up every day with the belief that we are part of something bigger than ourselves and are making a real difference in the world.

The root of passion is learning to love yourself. Many people who struggle to find passion are so out of touch with themselves that they simply can’t connect with what drives them. Their lives are like a scene from the movie Groundhog Day: wake up, go to work, come home, and do it all over again. This is a recipe for despair and misery.

Why does passion matter? First, like kindness, passion is contagious. People who see a genuine sense of passion in their leader are motivated by it and learn from it. If the leader can’t connect to their why, how could anyone working for them do so? When the leader exudes passion, it provides the inspiration that helps others motivate themselves.

As a leader, you have a responsibility to talk about and demonstrate your passion, and to ensure that the people in your organization can find and act from theirs. That begins with giving them a sense of purpose in their work, and then encouraging them by helping them grow and forge connections with others. Most people will behave like those who inspire them, and the converse is true as well.

Put It All Together

As a leader, when you learn how to lead with kindness, accountability, and passion, something amazing happens. You foster a sense of community based on a shared purpose that brings joy and satisfaction to the people in your organization. 

No longer will you react to stress in a way that drives people away. Instead, your people can rely on you to respond in an authentic but supportive way to whatever situation is happening, and you can empower them to do the same. 

At the end of the day, leaders who act out of kindness and their own sense of passion, who respond but don’t react in even the most stressful moments, create the types of organizations that others want to work for. And the best part? They never need to scream, on the inside or out.

For more advice on how to lead from a place of kindness, passion, and accountability, you can find Lead Well on Amazon.

Written by Ken Falke.

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Ken Falke
Ken Falke spent twenty-one years in the US Navy as a bomb disposal specialist, leading troops on thousands of high-risk missions. After retiring from the Navy in 2002, Ken started his first company, A-T Solutions, a counter-terrorism company, and in 2008 sold the business. In 2011, Ken started his second company, Shoulder 2 Shoulder, and sold his stock to his business partner in 2017. In addition to Ken’s two for-profit companies, he founded two nonprofit organizations, beginning with the EOD Warrior Foundation to support the families of severely wounded military bomb disposal personnel. This work inspired Ken and his family to donate thirty-seven acres of their estate in Bluemont, Virginia, and millions of dollars to build Boulder Crest Foundation in 2013—the nation’s first privately funded wellness center dedicated exclusively to combat veterans, first responders, and their families—and go on to establish Boulder Crest Arizona and the Boulder Crest Institute for Posttraumatic Growth in 2017.

Ken Falke is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow him on LinkedIn. For more information, visit the author’s website.