The word Mensch has ancient Jewish origin: first it meant a human being or a man but later its sense changed a bit. Today the term Mensch has broader sense and signifies an integral and honorable person (a man or a woman) to admire and to follow.
So a Mensch is someone who could be your trusted friend or a reliable colleague, and who has all the necessary qualities for that. The traits of a Mensch can be best understood if described in a form of a tree. Each tree has roots, trunk, and branches covered in leaves. Some Mensch`s traits keep him enrooted deeply in the ground like roots, other traits help him to keep him strong, like a trunk. And some traits are like leaves that give shadow to all those who follow a Mensch.
When all these qualities of character are combined, a true leader is born whom people call a Mensch. This is the leader who is able to help others to develop and to do their work in the best way possible. So what are those traits?
The roots of a Mensch are his freedom from arrogance, sincerity, and empathy
Despite the fact that roots are hidden in the ground, they are essential for a tree to survive. Without healthy roots, a tree won`t grow and flourish. It`s the same with true leaders: they are nothing without personality. But what are the roots that make a perfect leader or a Mensch?
Freedom from arrogance or humility helps a Mensch to look at things from new perspectives avoiding being always right. For instance, Anthony Kevin Dungy, a former NFL player and the trainer of the Indianapolis Colts, never shows off in front of his players. He talks to them in a humble manner and teaches them as an equal, and in many cases, they teach him some important things as well. Moreover, he never brags about his past deeds and even avoids talking about himself.
A Mensch is a person who is absolutely genuine and authentic. It`s a man or a woman who has managed to create a unique set of values that help him or her to contribute to the world.
A Mensch is a person who genuinely knows what is wrong and what is right in any circumstances. For example, if a Mensch is worried about the environment, he will stick to his principles regardless of any possible obstacles. Even if he is offered money to use harmful materials in the production, he will deny this possibility. This respectable quality is recognized by the people around instantly.
Emotional intelligence or empathy is a third quality that makes a Mensch an outstanding person. This quality helps a true leader to build trust in the relationship with his coworkers and friends. A true leader always takes into account how other people feel in his company. His genuine and absolute presence in any situation is the sign to others that a Mensch is really concerned about their feelings, thoughts, and ideas.
However, a Mensch understands empathy in the right way: not as pleasing everyone and making everyone admire you. Colin Powell, a former US Secretary of State, once said that pleasing everyone leads to negative consequences: you can neglect tough decisions which are unavoidable and be afraid of confronting people. As a result, people will think that you are an insincere and unreliable person.
A powerful tree trunk is created of professionalism, positive attitude, and responsibility
Now when you`re aware of what constitutes the basis of a true Mensch, it`s time to find out everything about his trunk, the thing that keeps the leader strong and upright. Of course, it`s a positive attitude, which will help a leader to inspire people around and persuade them that the sky is the limit for them.
Responsibility is another core element of a trunk of a Mensch. Any work is impossible without making mistakes. But when an error is made, it takes responsibility to acknowledge it and correct it. Acknowledging a mistake is impossible without courage but it usually helps a leader to build strong relationships.
The case of Maple Leaf Foods can be a good example of responsibility of a leader. When the firm was accused of spreading of a foodborne illness, the CEO of the company, Michael McCain, acknowledged their fault publicly and promised to solve the problem.
Thus, responsibility is essential for creating a truly reliable leader. Another important element is professionalism. A mensch always strives to become an expert in his sphere. He is aware of the fact that his professionalism inspires others.
A Mensch`s professionalism includes inner tranquility in any problematic situation, clarity, and truthfulness. A real leader is a good listener as well. In other words, he listens more than he speaks. This quality deserves special attention because the majority of people aim to tell their stories interrupting and ignoring others.
A good listener is the one who can honor another person`s story and offer his own afterward.
A Mensch can create a friendly and positive atmosphere with the help of genuine interest in people
Now when it`s all clear about the roots and the trunk of the tree, it`s time to talk about the branches, another important element of leadership. One essential branch is the mood of a Mensch. An effective leader is 100% aware of how his mood affects the environment of the company and is able to control it.
For instance, it is well-known that an energetic and a motivated boss is more likely to create an engaging and positive atmosphere in which people will work eagerly.
Take a look at Whole Foods Company. This is the company that aims to create a positive environment for all the employees. The leaders of the firm are enthusiastic and friendly, and customers are happy to return there. Another important aspect of this company is transparency in terms of salary. Employees know what their bosses earn, and that creates a positive and friendly atmosphere.
Another branch that creates a real Mensch is generosity. But it` s wrong to perceive generosity in a limited way: as money only. Generosity must be understood in a broader sense, like giving people a chance to become better even if they make mistakes. Even more important is to recognize people`s achievements, no matter how small they are.
For example, at US cancer hospitals, all the employees are aware of their mission. Even janitors claim that they work to battle cancer. It means that the leader of the institution made all the employees feel significant.
True leaders are also confident in themselves, and this confidence makes them effective. Albert Bandura, a famous Canadian psychologist, emphasized the belief in ones ability to perform efficiently above all. This is the crucial trait of character that helps people deal with mistakes and challenges.
Self-efficient people don`t give up even if they fail and are able to meet any challenges on their way. These are people who are psychologically healthy and more positive at work.
A leader needs time to reflect upon himself and to build confidence to appreciate his employees
So now you know what a Mensch is, and it`s time to find out you can be a real leader. Before inspiring others it`s crucial to become confident in oneself. Here is the information that can help you to become a real Mensch:
So this is what you can do:
When the day is over, think about your interactions: calls you made and e-mails you sent. Are you satisfied with them?
This habit of introspection will help you to improve interaction with others. It`s crucial for a leader to develop: unless he is confident in himself, his employees won`t be confident in him.
Self-confidence is the core to successful leadership. It can be learned from self-confident people or it can be improved in the process of counseling.
After gaining basic self-confidence a leader must learn how to interact with others effectively. Showing appreciation and complimenting others are the most important aspects of creating a positive atmosphere. Appreciation stimulates employees and motivates them to work harder.
Don`t forget to say good words to the people around you. It`s a sign of a classy corporate culture and the ultimate means to improve the self-esteem of others.
The leader as a Mensch is the one who truly cares about people. It means giving people opportunities to grow and stimulating them in the process. However, to become a real leader you have to build yourself by growing your roots, trunk, and branches.
What can you act now:
Don`t be afraid to compliment employees. If you have a chance to show appreciation, don`t be humble in your expressions. Say: Your help is so important to me! or I wouldn`t be able to manage without you! If you are generous in good words, people will be happy to work better.