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Management Tips

Great Leaders Build Their Emotional Courage

Part of being a leader is doing things that make you feel uncomfortable. Maybe you need to raise a tough issue with a direct report, or maybe you have to handle negative pushback on a project. To improve the way, you deal with uncomfortable situations, build your emotional courage. Start by thinking of a leadership skill you want to get better at: giving feedback, listening, being direct — whatever you want to grow in. Then practice that skill in a low-risk situation. For example, let’s say you want to get better at being direct. The next time there’s a mistake on your phone bill, call customer service and practice being succinct and clear. Notice how you want to react — Get angry? Backpedal? — and focus on resisting those impulses. These are the same feelings you’ll encounter in higher-risk situations at work, so learn to push through them. Continue to practice until you feel comfortable and can respond the way you’d like to.

Is It Possible to Ask Too Many People for Advice?

When you need advice, how many people should you ask? It’s tempting to get a lot of opinions — say, from friends, co-workers, and mentors — but doing so can backfire. You won’t be able to follow everyone’s advice, of course, and research shows that those whose advice you don’t take may have a worse view of you afterward. They may even see you as less competent or avoid you. (Imagine a senior executive in your company who is pleased that you asked her what to do — and then less pleased when you don’t do it.) So the next time you need advice, think carefully about who you’re asking and be transparent about your goals. Clarify the reason you are soliciting advice (“I am hoping to explore all my options”) and whether you’re asking others for their view as well. That way you can set the tone for the discussion and the expectations for the actions you take in the future.

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