Benevolence is probably one of the most important antecedents of leadership. Being friendly and having positive intentions towards other people is the conduit of influence. It facilitates trust, communication and absorption of ideas.
Strength is also important. One needs to be competent and integer to count on the trust and followership of people. But strength without benevolence leads to fear and undermines initiative, potential, creativity (Cuddy, Kohut & Nelfinger, 2013).
This is common sense. Doctors, teachers, salespeople, managers, parents get more things done, if they show genuine interest for the feelings and concerns of their patients, pupils, customers, employees or children.
And yet. How many people don’t loose their patience with people, climbing up the ladder of power? Listening to other people, having patience for someone to understand something, taking time for small talk… it all becomes so much harder higher up the hierarchy.
Telling people what to do and neglecting the emotional side of things becomes tempting as a way to gain time and efficiency. Power over people instead of power through people.
Do you want to keep your leadership mojo running? Don’t loose your benevolence along the way. On the contrary. Let lack of benevolence be the warning signal that your leadership is in danger.
If you’re no longer really interested in the people around you, it’s time to stand still, take time and hold your power horses. Regain your friendliness before moving on.
(1) Cuddy, A., Kohut, M. & Neffinger J., (2013). Connect, then lead. Harvard Business Review, july-august, 54-61