There is a humorous quote by James Altucher in his 100 Rules for being an entrepreneur with regard to being emotionally fit; “Don’t have dating problems and software development problems at the same time. Venture Capitalists will smell this all over you.”
I am not sure if he intended to be funny with this quote, but it brought a smile to my face. He does have a point though, stay away from situations that would adversely affect your leadership or entrepreneurial goals.
Today’s post is not about the woes of software development problems…I pray and hope I never have to write about that. On the contrary, it is about how we under estimate the powerful effect of our smiles.
No, you don’t have to walk around like a Cheshire cat with a sheepish smile on your face but it does help to be approachable as it encourages people to open up to you and trust you with their reservations and opinions.
I know, you don’t care about the opinions of others but you need to seem like you care (even though you end up doing whatever you want to do anyway).
It is difficult to lead effectively if you don’t have the trust and buy-in of your team. What if your face is naturally and perpetually formed into a scowl? Fear not, I am here with handy tips to the rescue!
I am a card carrying member of the Smiling Leaders Association and contrary to popular belief, I get more done with my happy attitude than years when I had scowls on my face and only responded to people in monosyllables. How did I change all that?
1. I practice smiling in the mirror: No jokes. Back in Law School, I was a team leader and was once accused of being a grumpy girl. I hated that and even though I thought I had a naturally smiley face, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and realised that I really did looked like a cross between Zelda in Terrahawks and Eeyore (my hair situation didn’t help matters, I really looked crazy).
Yes, I had a lot of pressure but who doesn’t? I made up my mind to practice the art of smiling and making small talk.
Now, I am such a smiling apostle I am surprised my cheeks are still functioning. Also, I have noticed how much easier it is for me relate to people when I have a smile on my face.
2. I put things in perspective: It is difficult to have a smile on my face when my room is leaking or I have lost my travel card. So I do what any sane person does – I talk to myself.
It is not my computer’s fault that the internet connection is slow, so I need to go easy on my keyboard. It is not my team mate’s fault that I forgot to take an umbrella to work today and got soaking wet so I have to cease and desist from transferring aggression and smile even though my whole being is not willing.
3. I eat chocolate: Okay, I admit that this is a bit extreme but I have found that any chocolate with nuts elevates my mood so I indulge myself.
Hey, this is the sacrifice I need to make to be a happy leader :). In your case, it may be coffee, tea, haribos…whatever it is, do it with moderation and take one for the team.
Do you have any reservations about smiling more as a leader?