What is leadership?
Many executives excel operationally and grow in the organisation due to their technical expertise and ability to achieve results. As executives get more senior, their effectiveness as a leader is measured by their ability to collaborate, assert their opinion, be creative in their solutions and develop talent.
Here is where the challenge arises because the executive has to start looking beyond the comfort zone of information and move into managing relationships.
When we are unaware of our behaviour, it can be challenging to engage with people effectively. I recall working with a senior leader at a financial institution, who often felt that his team was emotionally reactive and impulsive. As I started coaching and sought stakeholder feedback, we discovered that the leader tried to spread himself across products, instead of focusing on his unique strengths.
To engage with relevance, he is aware and rooted in strengths and let go of areas where he was less effective. Gradually, the leader became more mindful of his engagement with the team and redesigned his role in the organization. This increased his effectiveness and deepened his relationships with the team.
Contributing Relevantly Enhances The Effectiveness
The rapid pace of change and global mobility have increased the complexity of a leader. The effectiveness rests on the ability of the leader to manage transitions with ease by delegating efficiently, collaborating creatively, motivating and developing the team and adapting to change with agility.
That’s many asks from a person – Is it possible? Absolutely!
Transitioning as a leader requires the person to step away and introspect on what’s working and what’s not working. When we examine our thought patterns and actions and their outcomes, we can identify thoughts and emotions that block us from being effective or those that support us in developing relationships.
When we acknowledge our unique strengths and limitations and accept that to accomplish our goals, we need support from others, we are able to collaborate strategically.
Managing relationships is an artful mix of observation and communication. Our language is our biggest tool for developing trust and engaging with people in a relatable manner. When we acknowledge another persons’ uniqueness, we are immediately able to show that we care and build a connection. This is possible when a leader gets their need for significance out of the way because they know that their significance arises from being relevant.
Accept And Embrace Diversity In Perception
Expecting others to understand us or be like us or process information like us, is the most flawed assumption and expectation. The ensuing judgements due to unmet expectations and agitation impact the quality of the relationship and the ability to harness talent.
Diversity in perception, like change, is a given. We cannot avoid or deny the existence of differences. India is possibly the land of maximum diversity – culture, food, dialect, clothes, dance, music, architecture, religion, geographic terrain…now add to this diversity in gender, sexual orientation, intelligence, motivations, political views etc., we find ourselves dealing with a far more complex mix of emotions and thought processes.
To contribute relevantly, a leader needs to develop self-awareness as that facilitates the leader to expand as an observer and design the personal strategy for success. Last one year, I have been working with a senior executive who was well regarded for his knowledge and process orientated approach.
To rally various stakeholders in his decision-making process, he had to learn to listen patiently to others ideas and give space before diving in to give solutions. Being open and experimental, his effectiveness and popularity as a leader have grown.
Letting Go Our Insistence Leads To Creativity And Empowerment
We can harness our diversity to enrich our working environment while problem-solving, ideating and managing relationships. Recently at theatre class, we had to imagine a storyline by listening to a music sequence. Each classmate experienced music differently. We had to stitch our experiences together into one story.
We can achieve a common outcome when we let go of our insistence to our perception and allow room for the script to evolve creatively. As a leader chooses to let go and contribute relevantly, the leader also makes room for empowerment and development of talent.