It’s definitely easy for leaders to focus on the details and transactional aspects of management when attempting to guide their enterprises, but I know from my own experience and that of my Coaching clients that it often means ending up becoming too controlling and developing a leadership style which relies on far too many details. Even if we don’t end up at the wrong end of what leadership can become the challenges of running a complex enterprise can become occasionally unbearable and often stressful.
Social signals and conditioning may lead us to think that navigating a role with power means coercion and pressuring others until they ‘submit’ and do what is expected of them. Although much progress has been made in recent years to abandon the less empathetic styles of leadership there’s still a strong echo of this within the workplace and within our society today. Hierarchical and over-managing styles leadership can get things done, but the fallout in terms of toxicity, poor wellbeing and long term productivity means that everyone ends up losing. Plus, it’s really no fun at all.
Learning to lead holistically, requires a high degree of emotional intelligence. And this has a cascading effect on business and organisational transformation. In this article I list the top five things leaders need to remember or enact if they are to lead in a truly balanced way.
One: Work On Yourself First.
We all need to reflect, and take a step back and see things with new eyes. If you’re in a leadership role, you need to turn your attention to what you are thinking, feeling, saying and doing. How you are effects everyone in your team. Call this self-awareness or an aspect of emotional intelligence, but you need to be on a continuing journey of personal development to lead well.
And this isn’t hard. It’s mainly about being completely honest with yourself and learning to become a friend to yourself. Some people hire a Coach for support, or learn meditation or other techniques for understanding their own thinking/mindset. I don’t need to point out the wealth of sources for personal development - books, podcasts, apps and seminars can all help empower leaders and make them more effective and basically more fulfilled as human beings. It’s just a matter of making a start, continuing and deciding what might work best for you at any given time. The discipline of this however, is essential.
Taking it a step further, accessing the power of insight more consciously can help you become even more effective. I see this every day with my clients and there are some great case studies in the above book Invisible Power that show what happens when the power of insight is accessed. If you think your current challenges are insurmountable, think again - we’re only limited by our beliefs and what our narrative currently tell us. Breakthroughs are possible, and can be brought forth readily when you know how.
Two: Create an Incredible Culture.
A full working knowledge and understanding of what our business culture is and what values it’s based on is vital. If you don’t know your vision and the steps to accomplish it, then how is anyone else in your team meant to? Ideally this should be written down and shared with all your stakeholders. Make your vision as clear as possible to your team but let people make mistakes and learn from them. Understand that psychological safety is important - in other words allow people to speak when there is a problem, share ideas and offer feedback.
Psychological safety has been proven to:
Source: HR Magazine, The Importance of Psychological Safety.
The truth is that enabling people within our teams and creating an environment of psychological safety facilitates insight, innovation, profitability, adaptability and wellbeing. And it means leaders can enjoy their roles much more - thriving whatever the challenges. You also need to learn to allow leadership and insight to come from anyone. Many leaders take on the burden of having to find all the answers. Whilst this may feel like the right thing to do, in reality it’s stifling.
Three: Be Deeply Empathetic, With Everyone.
A deeply empathetic approach to everyone within your organisation means that information is shared more readily, rapport is more natural and people feel genuinely understood and respected. If you want to get the most from someone, empathise with them.
Empathy is at the heart of rapport generally and leadership specifically. It’s not ‘touchy feely’ it just means you can genuinely understand where other people are coming from and what challenges they have. The Centre For Creative Leadership agree and list empathy as an essential component of leadership.
Four: Recognise That What People Do is More Important Than What They Say.
An ability to see past the words of your team and a focus on what people do is a great approach. Avoid complicated narratives about what other people may be thinking and/or saying.
See how they demonstrate their skills and abilities through what they actually do. Focussing in this way cuts through a lot of our tendency to overthink, and help us see deeper into what’s actually going on.
Five: Trust Your Intuition.
Being able to lead powerfully means giving yourself full permission to follow your gut instinct. Some people call this intuition and some people call it inner wisdom.
Whatever you call it, you need to trust it. Get out of your own way. More often than not it reveals the right path/decision or at least a way forward that can begin to reveal the outcomes you want or need to learn from.
In truth, being a more holistic leader is a never-ending process of learning and discovery. And may of course include more than I have listed above. However, being true to yourself and learning to act with complete integrity will always serve you and those around you. Avoiding the pitfalls of coercive styles of leadership is a must and although there’s always room for being assertive, strict hierarchy belongs in the past.
Does this article speak to you? If so, feel free to reach out for a free consultation with me. I work with award-winning CEOs and leaders helping them transform themselves and their organisations into better, more profitable and happier teams.