3 things strong leaders do really well
It is dazzling how fast things are moving and happening. Change that used to happen over years and decades is now taking place in weeks or days. We as humans have never dealt with change of this magnitude or at this pace and our lineair way of thinking is being challenged by the speed, and the complexity of it.
‘What got us here won’t get us there’ has never been more true. And who still believed in the all-knowing heroic leader who will get us out of the mess, is proven wrong for once and for all. Not a single leader holds all the knowledge, experience and skills to lead us into the emerging future and can anticipate the constant change all by him (or her)self. And if you think you do, please read on or scroll straight to point 1 below 😉. Or, discover one of the other 3 things strong leaders do really well!
As change becomes more and more pervasive and perpetual, there is a need for a new kind of leadership. One that is better equipped to lead our rapidly changing organizations and workplaces, manage our physical and mental health and well-being, and focus on the major trends and challenges that shape our future. On top of that, this new kind of leadership requires leaders to be able to develop the necessary resilience, cohesion, and collaboration in their organizations to perform at the highest levels, while change, by its nature, leaves people and organizations feeling anxious, confused, vulnerable, and divided. But how? There are 3 things strong leaders do really well!
How do you do that?
- Admit you are not perfect. Yes, really. You are only human too. Let go of the idea of being the indispensable, perfect, infallible Leader with a capital L. Instead of showing power and control, show humility and authenticity. Feels counterintuitive when everyone is looking at you for what to do? As long as you have a view of the horizon, it’s okay to be open about the things you are unclear and uncertain about. In fact, it creates trust, psychological safety and it empowers others when you do that. This in turn will drive shared learning and intelligence, resulting in enhanced collective performance and leading to better solutions for all.
- Listen with empathy and curiosity. Change is scary. Humans don’t like it. So when lots of change is happening, a good leader listens and shows empathy. It might feel as if it’s slowing you down, but it is a key step to contain the anxiety and understand the powers at play that might sabotage collective performance. Also, listen with curiosity: a good leader is no longer someone who brings his own knowledge to the table, but someone who ensures that all the knowledge sitting around the table is shared. So be open to the ideas and perspectives others around you have on the challenge at hand. It will increase organizational learning and enable effective navigation through complex change, driving better performance.
- Give meaning. At the end of the day, all humans long for a meaningful life. When we contribute to something that is important to us, we feel fulfilled. Leaders who bring values and purpose into the organization enhance focus, cohesion, and resilience and this particularly is important in times of massive change.When it feels as though everything is changing it helps to be connected by an underlying set of values that are always relevant, no matter what is happening around us. It is your northern star while navigating change by reminding us of what really matters.
Some people are born with these skills as a natural strength but for the rest of us the good news is that everybody can learn and develop these human skills. Which of these skills do you recognise in yourself? And where do you see room for development? Not sure how to figure that out? Let’s have a chat!
Written by Cathalijne Bol-Oudijk
Leadership Development coach at Minkowski