Leadership is a delicate dance between spontaneity and responsiveness. If you are a spontaneous and expressive leader, you will often find it hard to live without a filter. It can get hard to work with people who aren’t as open or expressive as you are.
Let’s take the example of a Senior Marketing Team Leader at a popular Indian company named Deepa. Expressive leaders like Deepa possess a natural inclination to express their thoughts and emotions freely. While this can be a valuable trait, it also poses challenges when it comes to maintaining a balance between spontaneous reactions and responding based on the situation at hand.
“I had a bad habit of interrupting people while they spoke, especially during arguments and confrontations. When I am disagreeing with someone, my only aim is to prove I am right. This makes me blind to the points the other person raises. I act unprofessionally sometimes and begin to cry due to the overflow of emotions. This has ruined my rapport with many employees and colleagues, that is if the interruptions did not,” said Deepa.
Let us explore the story of Deepa and delve into strategies for walking the tightrope of communication. We may not be able to help every expressive leader out there, but by understanding Deepa’s journey, we can learn valuable lessons. Mainly on how to strike a harmonious balance between spontaneity and responsiveness in leadership without compromising who you are.
To navigate between spontaneity and responsiveness, it is essential for expressive leaders to cultivate self-awareness. It can help them understand how to work with others while being themselves. At the same time, they can avoid overwhelming others.
“I started my journey by recognizing the impact of my expressive nature on my daily communication style. I tend to get emotional and excited for the simplest reasons. This affects my sense of judgment and my brain goes into overdrive. By understanding my tendencies, I became more conscious of how my spontaneity can sometimes overshadow the need for thoughtful responses,” said Deepa.
Self-awareness allowed Deepa to identify situations that required a measured and thoughtful approach. It empowered her to pause, reflect, and consider the consequences of her spontaneous reactions. By recognizing her strengths and areas for growth, Deepa took the first step toward finding a balance in her communication style.
If you aren’t sure about whether you are like Deepa, try these questions for reflection.
- Do I often interrupt others during conversations or meetings?
- Am I quick to react emotionally without considering the impact of my words or actions?
- Do I find it challenging to listen actively and fully understand others’ perspectives before responding?
- Do I frequently feel the need to immediately voice my opinions or thoughts without taking time to reflect?
- Am I prone to making impulsive decisions without gathering sufficient information or considering potential consequences?
- Do I struggle with maintaining a calm and composed demeanor during disagreements or conflicts?
- Do I frequently regret things I say or do in the heat of the moment?
- Do I prioritize expressing my thoughts and emotions over actively engaging in thoughtful discussions?
- Am I open to feedback and willing to adjust my communication style based on others’ needs?
- Do others perceive me as impulsive or reactive in my communication?
If your answer to many of these questions was yes, here are our tips.
Practicing Active Listening
Active listening is a powerful tool for leaders who wish to be their best selves while giving room for others, too. Deepa realized that by actively listening to others, she gained valuable insights into their perspectives and needs.
“I was always trying to put in my word and get my point across. I was concerned about what others felt, too. But I was eager to express my points. I didn’t realize that it made me seem to be someone who valued her words more than those around her. This newfound awareness helped me tailor my communication style to be more responsive to the situation,” said Deepa.
Deepa learned to resist the urge to immediately respond with her thoughts and ideas when a topic came up. Instead, she focused on truly understanding what others were saying, both verbally and non-verbally. This helped her to respond in a manner that considered the unique circumstances and needs of each individual or situation.
It made her indicate to others that she valued their thoughts and was doing her best to add to them. Simple changes like saying “I agree and would like to add on…” or “That makes sense, and I was actually wondering…” helped change her tone. It made her responses sound like responses and not separate conversations out of sync.
Cultivating Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence plays a vital role in balancing spontaneity and expressive responses. Deepa recognized that her expressive nature could sometimes overshadow the emotions and reactions of others. To address this, she embarked on developing her emotional intelligence.
“By cultivating emotional intelligence, I became more attuned to the emotions of those around me. I took the time to regulate my emotions and empathize with others. This helped me understand where people were coming from, and I could put myself in their shoes. I realized that being responsive required a balance of authenticity and empathy, allowing me to connect with others on a deeper level,” said Deepa.
Building a Supportive Network
Most leaders think they are alone when it comes to conquering their inner demons. It is not so, and you can always turn to external help or friends if required. Deepa eventually understood that walking the tightrope of communication was not a journey she had to undertake alone.
She sought support from a trusted network of colleagues, mentors, and coaches who could provide guidance and perspective. This network served as a sounding board, offering insights and feedback on how she could better balance her emotions. Their anecdotes helped her realize she was not alone, and others reacted in similar ways.
Through open and honest conversations, Deepa learned from others’ experiences and gained new strategies for effective communication. She understood that she didn’t have to compromise who she was underneath and could be herself. The support of her network reinforced her commitment to growth and empowered her to refine the leadership style she followed.
Practicing Mindfulness and Reflection
Mindfulness and reflection are essential practices for leaders to maintain equilibrium in their communication approach. Deepa incorporated mindfulness techniques into her daily routine, allowing her to be more present and intentional in her interactions.
This mindfulness helped her catch herself in moments of spontaneity and choose a more measured response. “I was at an event and someone called me the CEO instead of the CFO of my company. My immediate reaction was to interrupt his flow of thought and stop his speech. I wanted to barge in saying, “You are mistaken, that’s not who I am!” But by being mindful, I weighed the pros and cons of that reaction and its effect on my public image. It made me smile and nod my head during the event and later confront the person and correct them,” said Deepa.
Additionally, Deepa dedicated time for reflection, both in the moment and after significant conversations or events. By reflecting on her communication choices, Deepa gained insights into the impact of her spontaneity and identified certain areas for improvement. This reflective practice reinforced her commitment to balancing spontaneity with thoughtful responsiveness.
Finding the delicate balance between spontaneity and responsiveness is a journey that expressive leaders like Deepa must embark upon. By understanding that they are not alone and that being expressive is a beautiful trait, leaders can navigate this tightrope of communication successfully.
Deepa’s story teaches us that while spontaneity is a valuable trait, it must be balanced with the ability to respond thoughtfully based on the situation. By implementing these strategies, expressive leaders can enhance their communication effectiveness, foster stronger relationships, and lead with a greater sense of harmony and impact.
They can indicate their eagerness and show their excitement during conversations while also giving space for others to thrive. As leaders strive to strike this balance, they empower themselves to make well-informed decisions, connect with their teams, and drive positive change in their organizations.