trust

The Authentic Leadership we need in times of crisis.

Leadership in a CrisisAuthenticity in troubling times like these is key to engendering trust in those that depend on your decisions and perspectives. This trust is key to keeping your people focused and positive in a crisis and to reducing stress in times of uncertainty. Post crisis this trust will be key to rebuilding and in leading the recovery.

Authentic leadership is composed of four distinct components.

Self-Awareness (“Know Thyself”). A prerequisite for being an authentic leader is knowing your own strengths, limitations, and values. Knowing what you stand for and what you value is critical. It’s important to understand that self-awareness underpins the development of the other components of authentic leadership.

Relational Transparency (“Be Genuine”). This involves being honest and straightforward in dealing with others. An authentic leader does not play games or have a hidden agenda. You know where you stand with an authentic leader. Because of this you can be trusted – if you say its going to be ok people are going to believe you.

Balanced Processing (“Be Fair-Minded”). An effective authentic leader solicits opposing viewpoints and considers all options before choosing a course of action. There is no impulsive action or “hidden agendas”—plans are well thought out and openly discussed. They are shared with and include followers. A fair leader can build consensus in the right way and bring people with him. People pulling together can make all the difference in a fight for survival.

Internalized Moral Perspective (“Do the Right Thing”). An authentic leader has an ethical core. She or he knows the right thing to do and is driven by a concern for ethics and fairness. The roots of authentic leadership come from ancient greek philosophy that focuses on the development of core, or cardinal, virtues. These virtues are prudence (fair-mindedness, wisdom, seeing all possible courses of action); temperance (being emotionally balanced and in control); justice (being fair in dealings with others); and fortitude (courage to do the right thing).

Sometimes it takes a crisis to bring out your authentic self.

Becoming an authentic leader is not easy. Hopefully you established your credentials before this crisis and so your people can trust you and you in turn can get the best from them. But sometimes it takes a crisis to bring out your Authentic self. Are you like Hal Moore, the “first onto the battlefield” and “the last to leave the battlefield” sort of leader? How do you show this?

When your people are operating in anger or anxiety they are, of course, not as effective. This at a time when a survival mode mindset and maximum effort is required. It takes a calm trustworthiness in a leader with a steady hand to help people with this. Remember you may not know all the answers but you don’t pretend to – you work with others to find them and then make the best decisions you can. It is as always, about caring for and empowering your people and showing humility and compassion in everything you do. Even the hard decisions.

It takes a great deal of self-reflection (getting to know oneself), and the courage to do the right thing. It involves a degree of selflessness. We are seeing during the Pandemic many authentic leaders stepping forward. And we are also seeing the opposite.

Soon you will be leading the recovery and how you lead now will prepare for a much more successful outcome.

2020-04-27T15:59:29+00:00April 27th, 2020|Authentic Leadership, Discussion, Employee Engagement, Leadership|

Emotional Intelligence Makes You A Stronger Leader In High-Stakes Business

emotional Intelligence and LeadershipDoes high emotional intelligence make you a “soft” leader?

If you are a senior executive operating in high-stakes, fast-paced and competitive environments, you might have encountered this corporate myth.

I suspect this comes from the misconception that “emotional intelligence” is only about empathy, positivity and compassion and that it will somehow take away your critical thinking, toughness, decisiveness or leadership edge.

The reality is that emotional intelligence fuels stronger leadership in high-stakes environments. In my experience, those who have greater emotional intelligence can often better focus strategically, eliminate cognitive biases, make tough decisions, manage conflict and have difficult conversations with ease and effectiveness. From my perspective, emotionally intelligent leaders have the greatest edge, especially in high-stakes environments.

Below are four ways I’ve observed embracing emotional intelligence has helped my clients become stronger and tougher leaders and how it could help you, too:

1. Improved Resilience And Mental Toughness

The ability to show grace under fire, be mentally tough and lead effectively in uncertainty, chaos and crisis is the hallmark of a strong leader.

The primal emotional intelligence skills of self-awareness and self-management are the gateway to becoming mentally tough. To begin working on these skills, pay attention to your stress triggers and emotional blind spots. Create new habits that help you manage your capacity to be calm in a crisis, bounce back quickly from challenging events and signal strength to your people. Building a daily mindfulness practice or taking on a regular contemplative routine like journaling, for example, is very helpful in building resilience.

When executives are wary about starting a mindfulness practice, it is best to start small. Consider scheduling a few minutes daily for a visual breathing exercise, which is a great beginning point. Mindfulness is about intentionally paying attention — without judgment — to the present moment.

When you practice emotional intelligence as a leader, you learn to stop internalizing stress and reacting to incoming noise. With emotional intelligence, you minimize your feelings of frustration, anger and even mental exhaustion in your day-to-day life, and you learn to operate at your best and also let others operate at their best.

2. Sharpened Thinking

Emotional intelligence helps you to pay attention to the patterns, biases and blind spots in the way you think, form opinions and make decisions. By creating new self-awareness habits, you also learn to isolate the role your emotions are playing in your approach to decision making.

Practices such as mindfulness, taking new perspectives and emotional self-management which are a part of the emotional intelligence repertoire, help you enhance your ability to focus on what is most important. You can choose to zoom into a micro-perspective or zoom out and look at the big picture.

These are essential critical thinking skills for any leader who wants to succeed in a high stakes’ environment.

3. Greater Ability To Read External Cues

Many leaders default to leading from their areas of expertise and spend too little time synthesizing the cues from the operating environment.

As a leader in high-stakes environments, if you don’t pay greater attention to others and tune into their mindset, drivers and preferences, you will not be able to read organizational and market signals. Emotional intelligence helps you develop social awareness and become more aware of cues, patterns and influencers of the people around you, whether they are clients, stakeholders, teams, adversaries or your board.

The first key step is to intentionally spend time understanding organization dynamics in your company and engage with empathy with those around you. Both practices give you a big picture and a micro view of external factors. This insight into the external environment helps you make more effective decisions around strategy, talent, organizational transformation and execution.

4. Increased Effectiveness With People

Relationship management is a key facet of emotional intelligence. The focus on managing relationships with others by building upon self-mastery and social awareness helps you hone your relationship management ability. You learn how to influence others, have difficult conversations, manage conflict, develop and coach your talent, inspire your teams and generally become more effective with others.

Leaders in high-stakes environments are expected to be effective and create results quickly. Once they learn to seamlessly forge and navigate relationships, it makes them even stronger in their leadership.

I believe strong leadership in high-stakes environments can only be built on a foundation of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is a unique and powerful gateway for both self-mastery, as well as your effectiveness with others. If you operate in a high-stakes environment, you would be remiss to not add it to your toolkit.

Written by Shefali Raina for Forbes Coaches Council  Original here 

Emotional Intelligence: The Secret Sauce That Makes A Good Leader

Emotional Intelligence: The Secret Sauce That Makes A Good Leader: Some people managers struggle with being good leaders and cannot understand why: They are experts in their fields, work hard, and communicate with their direct reports in a comprehensible and explicit manner. And yet, those direct reports don’t seem to be happy, engaged, and most importantly: productive. Something seems to be missing.

In many cases, the problem starts with the selection criteria for new leaders: Often these individuals are selected because of their job performance and their expertise. Those criteria, of course, make perfect sense but they are not enough. There is a third requirement that is often neglected but crucial for good leadership: emotional intelligence.

When emotional intelligence is missing:

Have you ever witnessed someone lose their cool at work? How suddenly facts, arguments, and reason become irrelevant because a decision maker has a meltdown? Or how, at a meeting, the moderator is holding a monologue rather than engaging with the other participants and encouraging different viewpoints and ideas? Those behaviors are signs of a lack of emotional intelligence. And if leaders lack it, the consequences for their teams can be devastating.

From self-awareness to self-control:

Emotional intelligence is important for being able to control your emotions because it requires a high degree of self – awareness. When you are able to look at your actions and words from an outside perspective and see how they impact other people, you are much more likely to deliberately control your conduct towards others and therefore avoid negative consequences of your
behavior. This is especially important in conflict situations or when you feel under pressure.  The famous quote from the novel “To Kill a Mockingbird“ says it all: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” Empathy skills are crucial for good leadership. If you are able to empathize with others, you’ll be more connected to those people. This will lead to a higher level of trust, performance, and engagement and not just obedience and compliance. There is even solid evidence that empathy will not only make you a better leader, but also boost your own performance: For example, the study “Empathy in the Workplace“ shows that empathetic leaders are viewed by their bosses as better performers.

Emotional intelligence can be learned:

This is the good news for people who feel disheartened because they’re afraid they just don’t have significant emotional intelligence. There are three behavior sets you need to acquire, all of which are connected with empathetic listening:
Recognizing cues, verbal as well as nonverbal (e.g. tone, facial expressions, body language). Pay attention to what people are saying and what they omit saying.
Deciphering cues, which involves understanding the meaning of the said and unsaid messages and making educated guesses about underlying motivations and emotions.
Responding adequately, which involves showing others that their message was received and encouraging them to keep speaking their minds.

Good leadership is about connecting to your direct reports, about understanding their motivations, aspirations, interests, and fears. This will enable you to support their individual professional development which in turn will lead to more engagement and higher productivity. There are professional leadership coaches who specialize in this field. If you feel you could benefit from an expert showing you the ropes in this regard, find one. It could make all the difference.

Original Article in Huffington Post by Thomas Buus Madsen here

2019-04-10T09:21:22+00:00February 13th, 2017|Discussion, Emotional Intelligence, Leadership|

Good Leaders understand and use Autonomy

I was coaching a number of C-Suite Leaders from a large multi-national a few weeks ago and part of our work included the topic of Autonomy and its importance to Leadership. Great discussions and feedback reminded me there are some assumptions and some blind spots with regard to autonomy.

Autonomy and Motivation

The level of autonomy is the degree to which an organisation or leader gives their people the discretion or independence to schedule their work and determine how it is to be done. It can also mean allowing them to determine which work to do, trusting them to select their solution to a problem using their understanding of organisational strategy in the context of the organisations vision and goals.

Autonomy is important to motivation, one of the top three people motivators in fact. It helps your people feel they have some say in what happens and that they can make a difference in the world.

Autonomy is a key part of empowerment and engagement so including it and using it as part of one’s Leadership style is very important.

In a bureaucratic or hierarchical organisation autonomy is limited. Not only is this de-motivational but it retards decision making, response times, service quality and people growth over time. The more decisions people can make the more they learn and grow. Sometimes people make mistakes. People make less mistakes with experience, and when supported by training and communication and an understanding of the goals and objectives even less. Autonomy also allows the growth of your next stage of leaders who take over when decision makes leave or go missing.

 

How much Autonomy is needed?

This is something to judge in context. There is a difference between delegation and abdication. Throwing someone in at the deep end can teach them to swim, but sometimes they drown.

A good leader will encourage autonomy in their people. They will make a decision about the level of risk suitable to the roles involved. They will look at risk and work to mitigate through mentoring and support. So it is a complex decision but in general there is not enough autonomy given. Leaders who keep intervening to fix the problem are often well meaning but this is not the best solution in the long term. Serving your team is about putting in place that which is needed for the team to thrive. Some leaders only give Autonomy to some of their people and often need to review how their perspective or opinion of some of their people (particularly those not being given autonomy) is influencing who gets autonomy and who does not. This can be a blind spot.

 

Leaderships own Autonomy

It is also a good exercise to examine one’s own relationship with autonomy. A Leader who has no autonomy is not a Leader.  He or she is a manager. In a bureaucratic organisation, a “leader” who is all about control and “the rules” cannot inspire or motivate or engage the people around him. If this person becomes about growing his or her people, about carving out autonomy and with resources, empowerment – then he or she becomes a leader.

On the other hand a leader who is overly focused on their own autonomy may have problems aligning with the organisations goals and objectives. This can become apparent when change happens and the organisation is forced to change direction. Sometimes these leaders become about their own power, whether this is used for their own ends or to protect their own team this can cause tensions in the organisation.

A key part of leadership growth is to become aware of their relationship with autonomy. Both their own and that of their people. Part of this relationship is often emotional and often this can be a part of mindfulness or awareness work.

Aidan Higgins

Leaders ain’t necessarily so … Leadership is not management

compass1Why should anyone be led by you wrote Goffee and Jones (HBR) in 2001. Indeed. Often new leaders spent so much time on goals and targets and using “climbing skills” shall we call them, that when they arrive where they wanted to get to they think more of the same will work.this is not Leadership. Is the guy who is best at the Sales Function the best Leader of the Sales function? Is the IT guy who best hits his targets and reduces response times the best guy to motivate and set the vision for others? Is the guy whose quality control efforts drove excellent improvements in compliance for the last number of years the best leader of the QA function? To paraphrase George Gershwin “It Ain’t Necessarily So”…

The set of skills required to get you up the ladder is not the same set you need to be a good Leader. Leadership is not the same thing as being the boss (the one in charge, the top dog, the numero uno the big kahuna). Often we find Leaders in organisations who are there for the wrong reasons. Often too these people mean well and work very hard. But are they managing and doing what they always did and expecting results other than what they are getting. Is this Leadership. Do they have the perspective or time to make themselves into good leaders or even great leaders. Certainly most have the raw materials.

So where to start? The first step to good Leadership is counter-intuitive – just STOP. It’s counter intuitive because some leading by example feel they need to up the pace and keep up a very busy work schedule and work ethic. Others are so lost in the mire of “busy-ness” and the schedule of goal setting and goal completion that they never stop doing. You need to stop – to pause – to reflect. If you are doing – you are not being – and certainly not reflecting. And you must spend time reflecting – to understand yourself, your ego, your values, your beliefs and your impact on others. Good leaders need time to empathise, to think about others, to understand, frame and adopt THEIR Vision of the Organisation (as opposed to its Mission). So to Start, first you must STOP.

These Leadership skills are all things that can be developed. To become a Great Leader in the style of the Transformational or Authentic framework you can work on these things. If you give them time. Remember back when you developed the Sales, QA or IT skills that got you to where you are – well now its time to develop these new soft skills that all the great leaders have. I often tell Clients that the top of the ladder you were on is really only the bottom of the next Ladder.

To finish, a great quote drawn from chapter 2.42 – 2..44 of Bhagvad Gita

When the mind is fully occupied with thoughts of pleasure and power of the position, and when the mind is fully occupied with multiple desires and always thinking of gains that will arise, setting out great vision becomes a tough job. Because to set a great vision the mind must be great mood. The intellect of setting great vision is NOT formed in the mind of such people who are grossly attached to the fruits of action…

Aidan Higgins

How to spot an Emotionally Intelligent Leader

emotional intelligenceResearch has shown us that more than 90% of top leadership performers have a high amount of emotional intelligence or EI. The higher up the ladder that leaders are, the more people they impact and their EI becomes increasingly important. The person at the top sets the atmosphere that permeates the organization, including the emotional temperature.

Not only does a leader with low emotional intelligence have a negative impact on employee morale, it directly impacts staff retention. We know that the biggest reason that people give for leaving an organization is the relationship with those above them.

Below are five ways to spot an emotionally intelligent boss:

1. NON DEFENSIVE AND OPEN
Insecure leaders that demonstrate low EI become defensive and take it personally whenever they encounter anything that appears to them as criticism and a challenge to their authority. A secure leader with a healthy dose of emotional intelligence strives to listen, understand and find out what is behind behaviors and actions of those they are responsible for managing. They listen before they respond and if they don’t understand something ask open-ended questions that are meant to gather more information. As opposed to leaders with low emotional intelligence, they don’t make it about them, but look for ways to make the situation better for everyone involved.

2. AWARE OF THEIR OWN EMOTIONS
Leaders who are oblivious to their own emotions and how they are impacted by them have no awareness of how their words and actions affect others. This can have a very devastating effect on staff morale and lower productivity. Highly emotionally intelligent leaders are aware of strong emotions and avoid speaking out of anger and frustration. If they feel the urge to give in to strong emotions in their interactions with others, they give themselves a time out, waiting until their emotions have leveled off and they have had a chance to think about the situation.

3. ADEPT AT PICKING UP ON THE EMOTIONAL STATE OF OTHERS
A skilled and empathetic leader that is aware of others’ emotions is able to use that awareness to develop stronger relationships with those they manage. Even if delivering bad news, they are able to cushion the impact by simply letting the receiver know that they are aware of how they might be feeling. Leaders with high EI are able to put themselves in the place of the person receiving criticism or negative feedback, allowing them to give it in a way that might be more beneficial and less destructive.

4. AVAILABLE FOR THOSE REPORTING TO THEM
Good leaders make themselves available to those reporting to them both physically and emotionally. They are responsive to the fact that there will be times that those reporting to them will be having difficulties outside of work that will impact them. Death of family members, friends, relationship breakdowns, and all sorts of life crises will affect virtually everyone at work at times. Emotionally open and secure leaders understand are there for support during these times.

5. ABLE TO CHECK THEIR EGO AND ALLOW OTHERS TO SHINE
While possessing self-confidence, high EI leaders do not have a need to demonstrate their own importance or value. They chose their words carefully and speak and act out of concern for their staff, and the health of the organization. They do not have the need to have their ego massaged and are not looking for ways to take credit for the work of others. Understanding that people work better when they feel appreciated, they are always looking for ways to give positive feedback and rewards for a job well done. Secure in their own abilities, they are not threatened by those under them and actively seek to help them work to the best of their capabilities and rise up the organization.

This article was originally published by Harvey Deutschendorf  on fastcompany.com

Why Should Teams Build Their Team Emotional Intelligence?

Team Emotional Intelligence is linked to very significant outcomes in terms of goal achievement. No one would dispute the importance of making teams work more effectively. But most research about how to do so has focused on identifying the task processes that distinguish the most successful teams—that is, specifying the need for cooperation, participation, commitment to goals, and so forth. The assumption seems to be that, once identified, these processes can simply be imitated by other teams, with similar effect. It’s not true. By analogy, think of it this way: a piano student can be taught to play Minuet in G, but he won’t become a modern-day Bach without knowing music theory and being able to play with heart. Similarly, the real source of a great team’s success lies in the fundamental conditions that allow effective task processes to emerge—and that cause members to engage in them wholeheartedly.

Our research tells us that three conditions are essential to a group’s effectiveness: trust among members, a sense of group identity, and a sense of group efficacy. When these conditions are absent, going through the motions of cooperating and participating is still possible. But the team will not be as effective as it could be, because members will choose to hold back rather than fully engage. To be most effective, the team needs to create emotionally intelligent norms—the attitudes and behaviors that eventually become habits—that support behaviors for building trust, group identity, and group efficacy. The outcome is complete engagement in tasks.

Three Levels of Emotional Interaction

Make no mistake: a team with emotionally intelligent members does not necessarily make for an emotionally intelligent group. A team, like any social group, takes on its own character. So creating an upward, self-reinforcing spiral of trust, group identity, and group efficacy requires more than a few members who exhibit emotionally intelligent behavior. It requires a team atmosphere in which the norms build emotional capacity (the ability to respond constructively in emotionally uncomfortable situations) and influence emotions in constructive ways.

Team emotional intelligence is more complicated than individual emotional intelligence because teams interact at more levels. To understand the differences, let’s first look at the concept of individual emotional intelligence as defined by Daniel Goleman. In his definitive book Emotional Intelligence, Goleman explains the chief characteristics of someone with high EI; he or she is awareof emotions and able to regulate them—and this awareness and regulation are directed both inward,to one’s self, and outward, to others. “Personal competence,” in Goleman’s words, comes from being aware of and regulating one’s own emotions. “Social competence” is awareness and regulation of others’ emotions.

A group, however, must attend to yet another level of awareness and regulation. It must be mindful of the emotions of its members, its own group emotions or moods, and the emotions of other groups and individuals outside its boundaries.

When a member is not on the same emotional wavelength as the rest, a team needs to be emotionally intelligent vis-à-vis that individual. In part, that simply means being aware of the problem. Having a norm that encourages interpersonal understanding might facilitate an awareness that Jill is acting out of defensiveness. And picking up on this defensiveness is necessary if the team wants to make her understand its desire to amplify her good work, not negate it.

Some teams seem to be able to do this naturally. At Hewlett-Packard, for instance, we learned of a team that was attempting to cross-train its members. The idea was that if each member could pinch-hit on everyone else’s job, the team could deploy efforts to whatever task required the most attention. But one member seemed very uncomfortable with learning new skills and tasks; accustomed to being a top producer in his own job, he hated not knowing how to do a job perfectly. Luckily, his teammates recognized his discomfort, and rather than being annoyed, they redoubled their efforts to support him. This team benefited from a group norm it had established over time emphasizing interpersonal understanding. The norm had grown out of the group’s realization that working to accurately hear and understand one another’s feelings and concerns improved member morale and a willingness to cooperate.

Many teams build high emotional intelligence by taking pains to consider matters from an individual member’s perspective. Think of a situation where a team of four must reach a decision; three favor one direction and the fourth favors another. In the interest of expedience, many teams in this situation would move directly to a majority vote. But a more emotionally intelligent group would pause first to hear out the objection. It would also ask if everyone were completely behind the decision, even if there appeared to be consensus. Such groups would ask, “Are there any perspectives we haven’t heard yet or thought through completely?”

Perspective taking is a team behavior that teamwork experts discuss often—but not in terms of its emotional consequence. Many teams are trained to use perspective-taking techniques to make decisions or solve problems (a common tool is affinity diagramming). But these techniques may or may not improve a group’s emotional intelligence. The problem is that many of these techniques consciously attempt to remove emotion from the process by collecting and combining perspectives in a mechanical way. A more effective approach to perspective taking is to ensure that team members see one another making the effort to grapple with perspectives; that way, the team has a better chance of creating the kind of trust that leads to greater participation among members, and better outcomes in terms of Goal achievement.

Adapted from the Original Article by Druskatt and Wolff > here

2019-04-10T09:21:33+00:00January 30th, 2014|Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, Team Performance|

Authentic Leaders seek first to understand then to lead

We meet leaders all the time, everywhere. There are some so passionate about their purpose that we would follow them at the drop of a hat, believing in their cause. I met a Social Entrepreneur recently who was so passionate about what he did that I immediately questioned the value in what I was doing and began to visualise how I could become part of his vision. He told me what he did, the positive impact it made and how he jumped out of bed each day to get to work.

It’s a vision thing folks and we know this. But it’s vision with connection, perspective and awareness that works. ironically for a “vision” thing we feel it from leaders. Rather than see it.  It comes from three centres; the body, the emotion and the mind. The mind sets the plan, the emotion fires the passion and the body exudes the belief. Walking the talk.

Authentic leaders work from all three centres. Sometimes not even knowing it. Ever see a great sales pitch? The best have three centre principles – passion, vision and belief. We don’t remember what people say we remember how they make us feel. Martin Luther did not say “I have a plan” he said. “I have a dream”.

Before leaders get there, they must become aware of what they believe. Handing down the party line to followers doesn’t motivate followers, it doesn’t connect. Often leaders are so focused on goals and success ( because they think it’s right and that’s all performance is)  that they forget what they believe and who they are and this limits their ability to connect with people, to engender motivation and to drive engagement. Their team becomes a box ticking group of clock watchers and bonus driven automatons.

Leaders need to remember that they as well as their people need a higher purpose, a great big powerful why. The great leader then drives autonomy, mastery and efficacy amongst followers who become greater than the same of their parts. Happier, more engaged and more effective in everything they do.

How’s that for a vision for your organisation for 2014!

Aidan Higgins

Re-Learning Leadership

Learning LeadershipIt is said that we learn our parenting skills from our parents. We learn from what we observed in childhood. We are also impacted by the culture we were part of and the environment in which we lived. Parenting is often instinctual and we distinguish right and wrong from our values system which often gets severely tested, especially when our children start to have minds of their own and are developing their own system of values. The day you say “because I said so” can be a real turning point for some.

Leaders often learn the same way. Learning Leadership involves spending a lot of time absorbing behaviours from our leaders, in a culture that influences (but of which we might be unaware) and in, usually, one environmental context. Unlike most parenting skills perhaps the skills and behaviours used when we were learning leadership are not appropriate now – but as leaders we still do or “go with” what we know. In the last four decades the organisational context has flipped over every 10 years – grow, cut back, grow, cut back. On top of that each generation of workers gets more knowledgeable, more technological, has different motivations and owns more of the key competencies and skills of the organisation.

An interesting recent article in the Economist  commenting on the Anthropologist David Grabers article “Bullshit Jobs” points out that this trend will continue. As more competitive advantage will come from the interaction between skilled workers and the coming technologies more repetitive jobs will be automated. So more and more of the “power” will move from centralised control and command to the outer edges of the organisation. We have discussed this before in our story about the US Navy and their understanding of the importance of empowerment following modern changes in warfare technology.

So do leaders who have learned skills from their forebears and from older cultures and older contexts adapt? Well some do. And many don’t. There are many addictive qualities to the old authoritarian style and egalitarian behaviour. But this just doesn’t cut it in a modern organisation. Disappointing results from the US in the recent Gallup report (2013) on the US workplace noted that while it has been proven that employee engagement is absolutely key to organisational performance – poor engagement is costing the US 450 billion to 550 billion dollars annually. It also shows that different generations require different engagement (therefore leadership) practices. Often however the strategy is akin to the old saying – “When all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail” – we do what we have always done because we stay inside our comfort zone.

So what do leaders do? We need to become more transformational and also more authentic. We need to update our skills but also change who we are as leaders. This can be done with gaining understanding, getting a change in perspective, observation and developing those required behaviour changes. This is not the same as those standardized management skills often sold as “Leadership Training”. The good news is that some leaders are changing. Reports from the US show that 43% of CEOs and 71% of Senior Executives say they’ve worked with a coach. And 92% of leaders being coached say they plan to use a coach again.

I work with leaders. I talk with leaders. I know fear of change is often a big obstacle. Time is also a big issue but sometimes an excuse. The feeling that you are handing over your power to others can be scary. However the power is shifting in any case and a new form of leadership is required. I often find leaders trapped by assumptions who can easily transform their leadership if shown the way. Remember the old adage “where there is a will there is a way”. But first you need the will.

Aidan Higgins

Leadership Development – is leadership doing or being?

Leadership DevelopmentWorking in Leadership Development as I do, I find a lot of material on leadership skills. There are countless advisors pointing out what leaders need to do – top ten of this, top ten of that, the five most important the other. A lot of this information is correct and well intended too but most of this is about what a leader must “do” to become  successful. Little of it is about who to “be”.

There have been a number of Leadership models over the years, some of which now look ridiculous in the light of modern psychology and some which would never have worked leading people who have a strong sense of self and view of life  and completely reject the “I told you so” philosophy. Generations such as X, Y and the Millenials need to clearly see the vision and to trust their leaders to become engaged with the goals of the organisation. This is particularly true of knowledge workers, where the core knowledge and key competencies of the organisation are in their hands.

Many leaders at the top of organisations or leaders who are in charge of large teams are task oriented, and often they love a list to tick off to feel they are moving forward. Its all do do do – “Today I will make sure I will do some trust building exercises with my people”, and “tomorrow I will act more Authentic.” I am reminded of the old line  about sincerity … “The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you’ve got it made.”

Leadership Development -Emotional Intelligence and Leadership Brand

I have found over the years that good leadership development results come from working at the core  – so that improving it means working from the inside out. Working on Emotional Intelligence is one part of this – and improves leadership through awareness of the  emotional environment, awareness of the needs of others and the ability to connect with people on an emotional level. This is necessary to lead others and to gain the trust required, particularly for difficult times.

Leadership development should also focus on leadership brand,  a second key facet, which is the leader understanding what they represent and being true to that. This has been coined “leadership brand” and is something very important to followers – “What is this person about?” “Can I trust them?” “Are they all about the results or do they care about me?” “How do I know?” “Is what they say consistent with what they do?”

The pathway to success in leadership is therefore for the Leader to “Walk the Talk” to “Become” rather than to “Get” and to “Be” rather than to “Do”.

Aidan Higgins