3 Cues to Help You Become a More Perceptive Leader

Great leadership has a lot to do with managing relationships. Leaders with strong relationships inspire strong results. That means social awareness is a crucial skill for emerging and veteran leaders alike.

While there are many competencies to develop strong social awareness, a great one to start with is perception. Strong perception gives leaders an advantage when it comes to inspiring and managing their employees.

Here are a few things that perceptive leaders do well.

They Know the Most Important Things Often Go Unsaid

We all know the value of communication. In fact, when things go wrong, one of the first things we attribute our failures to is miscommunication. That means strong communication begets success.

Most of us think of verbal communication when we think of communicating with others. But research shows that as low as 7% of any given message is delivered through words, meaning 93% of a message’s meaning is delivered through nonverbal channels.

Consider this scenario: a manager walks into the office and greets the employees. “How are things?” they ask an employee. “Great,” the employee replies.

Interpreting only verbal communication, we get the sense that the employee is doing great.

But when we add nonverbal cues, maybe an eye roll, or an unenthused tone as the employee says “great,” we get the sense that things may not be so great.

Perceptive leaders understand the need to look for nonverbal cues when they communicate.

As George Bernard Shaw said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” Perceptive leaders pay attention to every aspect of how something is communicated, to recognize the true emotions that underlie questions and statements.

They Pay Attention to Others’ Relationships

Relationship management means managing one’s own relationships, but leaders must also keep an eye out for strong or weakening relationships within their teams.

High-functioning teams need strong inter-relationships, for the same reasons leaders need strong relationships with those they lead.

A manager is responsible for results, but leadership impacts what happens before an outcome is achieved. That means it’s the manager’s job not only to manage their own relationships, but to also manage the relationships that occur within a team.

Perceptive leaders know when it’s time to help build or rebuild relationships within their teams, or when it’s necessary to refocus teams to get more work accomplished.

They Continue to Develop Their Own Skills

Perceptive leaders are acutely aware of their own shortcomings. They understand how their strong leadership skills and their weaker skills impact their teams.

Perceptive leaders are champions for learning. They know that continuous improvement starts with leadership, and impacts individual contributors.

Being perceptive means understanding your own strengths and weaknesses. Perceptive leaders work to overcome their weaknesses and improve their strengths through learning.

There are many things that perceptive leaders do to separate themselves from less effective leaders. If you can start by managing your relationships better, understanding how to communicate, and developing your skills, you’re on your way to becoming a more perceptive leader!

For strategies to become more perceptive and build strong relationships with others, check out this free guide on emotional intelligence:

Training & Development Industry Researcher | Derek researches, discusses, and writes about the impacts of employee learning on organizations and individuals. He regularly interviews L&D and HR professionals, sharing their insight on trends and best practices that help organizations create stronger training programs, and help to grow their employees and their business.