Sunday, November 16, he wrote about what he has found “great marriages have in common.” His list: communicate, build trust, resolve conflicts, and be nice. My first thought were these are also the basis for great leadership. Here are some of my insights about leadership based on Dr. Ramey’s insights about marriage. His words about marriage are in quotation marks but I am applying his words to leaders.
1. Communicate. Good leaders
- can express what they mean clearly and when needed inspirationally
- are responsive to others and the situation
- can make adjustments as needed.
- have an even keel when problems arise
- avoid extreme behaviors
- are active listeners, good listeners
2. Build trust. Good leaders
- are authentic, real in their dealings with others
- are honest
- are “genuine in their interactions”
- “take responsibility for their actions”
- “truly forgiving”
- “move on rather than bringing up past events”
3. Resolve conflicts. Good leaders
- deal with conflicts “promptly and positively”
- “accept disagreements that are inevitable”
- “value perspectives different from their own”
- seek understanding and compromise, “not domination and conquest”
- careful in the use of harsh words
4. Be nice. Good leaders
- Can laugh and smile
- Be thoughtful
- Communicate caring
- Don’t overly criticize “small missteps”
- Find ways to celebrate good news
Dr. Ramey’s insights about marriage apply also to leaders.
1. The leadership literature is replete with insights about the communication skills needed to be an effective leader, including active listening. Less common is the insight to have an even temperament and avoid extremes in one’s behaviors.
2. Trust is the bedrock of great cultures. The list here reminds me of authentic and servant leadership. The significant insight from my perspective: “move on rather than bringing up past events.”
3. Resolving conflicts, in my opinion, is where we most often fail. Resolving conflicts, especially interpersonal conflicts, is difficult and not in most leaders’ skill sets. Conflicts are allowed to escalate rather than deal with them in the early stages. In the long term people and the organization may suffer.
4. Be nice. I smile at this one because I have recommended it for years. Being nice is a good way to build personal power. John Kotter has written about the value of simply doing favors. Manipulative? Need not be. Just be a nice person. It also reflects one of my favorite sayings , “No matter where you go or how you get there, there you are.” Lastly it embraces celebrating the moments, large and small, that unfold to you, something in the busy pace of life that is easy to forget.
Ramey, G. (November 16, 2014). “Here’s what functioning marriages have in common”. Dayton Daily News, E9.
"The Ring." © John Ballard, 2013.