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Wield soft power by giving back

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in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

In his 17 years running a mortgage company with 550 employees, Daryl Wizelman learned how to lead: Show lots of respect but little bossiness.

“When I observe great leaders, they have a certain vulnerability in them,” says Wizelman, now a motivational speaker in Calabasas, Calif. “They avoid the trap some CEOs fall into of having an ‘I know everything and you know nothing’ attitude.”

To treat employees with respect, wield authority in quiet ways. Exhibiting vulnerability on occasion enhances your stature as an authentic person. That’s better than refusing to back down as you spout opinions, issue directives and play know-it-all.

Bolster your mastery of soft power by:

Letting employees control conversations. Rather than dictate the topic and decide when every interaction will begin and end, be flexible. Ask open-ended questions and allow others to respond at their pace. Stay receptive even when you hear something that annoys you.

If someone starts to confide in you in the hallway, invest two minutes to listen. Don’t interrupt to say you’re too busy and insist the individual make an appointment to see you.

Apologizing when appropriate. Building trust with employees becomes easy when you acknowledge error or express regret for your outbursts or other problematic behavior. Demonstrating humility enables you to exert more influence over people than if you simply announce what you need from them.

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