Part of being a leader is doing things that make you feel uncomfortable. Maybe you need to raise a tough issue with a direct report, or maybe you have to handle negative pushback on a project. To improve the way you deal with uncomfortable situations, build your emotional courage. Start by thinking of a leadership skill you want to get better at: giving feedback, listening, being direct — whatever you want to grow in. Then practice that skill in a low-risk situation. For example, let’s say you want to get better at being direct. The next time there’s a mistake on your phone bill, call customer service and practice being succinct and clear. Notice how you want to react — Get angry? Backpedal? — and focus on resisting those impulses. These are the same feelings you’ll encounter in higher-risk situations at work, so learn to push through them. Continue to practice until you feel comfortable and can respond the way you’d like to.

Adapted from “To Develop Leadership Skills, Practice in a Low-Risk Environment,” by Peter Bregman

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