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10 Reasons Why Friendliness Is A Leadership Necessity

PERMISSION TO REPUBLISH: This article may be republished in newsletters and on web sites provided attribution is provided to the author, and it appears with the included copyright, resource box and live web site link. Email notice of intent to publish is appreciated but not required: mail to: brent@actionleadership.com Word count: 1273 10 Reasons Why Friendliness Is A Leadership Necessity by Brent Filson We've heard it many times, "It's a dog eat dog world." The trouble is, some leaders actually believe it. They conduct themselves like the alpha dog in a pack, holding sway through intimidation. This instinctive behavior helps insure survival in a dog world, but applied to the human world of organizational dynamics, it can lead to disaster.

Alpha dog leadership can eventually turn out to be destructive to the people, their organization, and the leaders themselves. To use another common metaphor, "That dog won't hunt." After all, leaders do nothing more important than get results; and the best results are what I've been teaching for more than two decades, "more results faster, continually." An alpha-dog leader might chew up people to get more results and get them faster, but I submit that it takes a far different personality trait to engender the "continually" aspect of the imperative. That trait isn't the despot modeled by so many leaders, it's .

well, friendliness. Having a friendly attitude as a leader means eschewing the alpha-dog way of leadership. It means being gentle, kind, helpful, and cordial in your relationships, even in times of anger and stress -- ESPECIALLY in times of anger and stress. Here are 10 reasons friendliness gets far more results than an alpha-dog way. (1) We stay in control. Apha-dog leaders seek to control others. But they misconstrue what control really means. In truth, such leaders are really out of control much of the time, since they're at the mercy of their emotional outbursts and the reactions of others to those outbursts. In leadership, the best way to control a situation, i., the best way to get great results, is to put the people in control. Don't constrain them through short-term compulsion but liberate them by playing the "longer game." Unleash their initiative and creativity by allowing them to make free choices, and they will be under your "control" in more profound and effective ways than the alpha-dog leader could imagine. (2) People respond more openly and positively to friendliness. Humans seek happiness; and friendliness is a great way to spread happiness. It enables you to communicate much more effectively because it bonds you with others in ways that anger, coercion, intimidation can't. And that bonding is the stuff that great results flow from. (3) We are modeling good interactions, bringing the future into the present. Whether leaders know it or not, their words and actions are carefully watched by the people they lead. People have an instinctive need to model those words and actions; or if they disagree with them, speak and act in opposite ways.

By radiating friendliness, leaders are being the means that are the ends in the making. (4) We make real issues relevant factors, not false issues like anger and intimidation. Friendliness tends to clarify issues; intimidation, because it is associated with fear, obfuscates them. So often intimidating leaders make themselves and their tormenting ways the issue. Whereas the real issues should be, how do we get results, how do we get more results, how do we get faster results, and how do we get "more, faster" continually? The fear they provoke is like crack cocaine, temporarily stimulating but addictive and in the long run destructive to the leader and the people. (5) With friendliness, we set the agenda. "A good offense is the best defense" applies with friendliness. You should be on the offense with friendliness, displaying it even in challenging circumstances when it may take an act of disciplined courage on your part. This helps you set the agenda in terms of how people respond to one another in these circumstances. Of course, your friendliness will not affect some people who may be determined to subvert your leadership no matter what your attitude is; however, friendliness can, like the clearing of brush-lines to contain a forest fire, keep rancor from spreading deeply into the organization.

(6) We increase the chance that others will support our cause. The truth is that leaders can't motivate anybody to do anything. The people make the choice to be motivated or not. Friendly leaders have the best chance of creating an environment in which the people make that choice. As Abraham Lincoln said, "If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend. Therein is a drop of honey that catches his heart, which, say what he will, is the great highroad to his reason, and which, once gained, you will find but little trouble in convincing him of the justice of your cause, if indeed that cause is really a good one." (7) Our opponents can be put off balance. As a leader, you'll often have people working against you, spoiling for a fight; and when they encounter a friendly attitude on your part, they may be thrown off balance in benignly effective ways. Furthermore, your friendliness can encourage others to take up your cause against them.


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