As the owner of a virtual accounting business I have a staff of virtual accountants. We are not all in the same office or even the same state. I’ve found that business leaders need to balance both power and tenderness if they want to get the best out of their teams. Regardless of whether you’re a man or a woman, these traits are equally important. Consider this: if you spend your time with your staff acting like an ogre, morale goes down. If your actions show you to be “wishy-washy,” you will be seen as a pushover. Neither extreme is conducive to good business practices.

Here are some ways in which to balance the two:

  • Know your personality type and that of your team members; then interact with them in a way that they will best respond toPicture1
  • Be objective and discern when your mood is impacting your leadership skills; if needed, postpone interaction
  • Knowing when and how to employ empathy and when to assert yourself to motivate an employee

As an example, say you have an employee who is consistently late with projects. You could “handle” it by berating the employee or by saying, “please do better next time.” Neither are effective. Here is a way to address the situation, “Sue, you’ve been late with your last two client projects. I expect those client deadlines to be met moving forward – our clients expect it of us and I expect it of you.” You can certainly give the employee an opportunity to explain, but bottom line, a deadline should be adhered to. In that situation you have balanced power (I expect it to be done) with tenderness through your tone of voice and inflection.

If you’re not certain which side of the fence you’re on, do tape some conversations and do some self-evaluation the next time a situation arises at your business with an employee.

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