Often times, I begin a leadership coaching engagement or leadership development training course with these series of questions:
â¢ When you are working at your best as a leader, what do you do?
â¢ Who are you ?
â¢ What is the impact ?
These questions are designed to raise awareness of what it means to lead with excellence. The second question, “Who are you? Is meant to evoke a change in mindset and often causes my clients to stop and appear puzzled. Most leaders tend to manage their day, focusing on achieving goals and crossing things off the endless to-do list. Few leaders take a moment to pause and think about who they are, the energy they project on the people around them, and how they make others feel.
For decades, we’ve known that a leader’s ability to communicate well and bring out the best in people, teams, and organizations is a differentiator between good and great leaders. A 2013 study by Zenger Folkman of 50,000 managers found that the overall effectiveness of a leader is predicted more by warmth than skill. In fact, a leader seen as unhelpful has only a 1 in 2,000 chance of reaching the top quartile of most effective leaders.
Today, the ability of leaders to communicate well by showing care and cultivating a culture of connection and mutual respect is more important than ever. As employees continue to embrace remote working, devote more time to their jobs, and grapple with increasingly conflicting social issues, they look to their workplace for a sense of belonging. The latest Global Human Capital Trends survey reveals that 79% of employees believe that fostering a sense of belonging is essential to the success of their organization, and 93% agree that a sense of belonging boosts organizational performance.
Leading well from the top of an org chart requires achieving goals by inspiring others to do their best and creating an environment where team members feel connected, motivated, and valued. Soft skills such as forming warm and caring relationships, fostering team play, and developing others become more critical than technical skills. The technical skills that enable a leader to succeed as an individual contributor or member of a functional team are less important as one progresses in an organization.
Realizing how you “are” as a leader can be a blind spot for some, especially those at the highest levels of leadership. To raise awareness, I invite my clients to take a break at the end of each day and think about these three questions:
â¢ Was my impact as a leader positive, neutral or negative?
â¢ What emotional and energetic field have I brought to my interactions with others?
â¢ How did I make others feel?
I also encourage my clients to ask for feedback regularly by bringing together a select circle of allies – mentors, peers and trusted advisors – to invite them to provide honest and candid feedback in real time on how they are viewed and the environment they create. This unfiltered feedback alleviates any blind spots a leader can have on their ability to foster healthy relationships at work.
Going back to the questions I asked at the start, the âdoingâ part of leadership is easy to observe, but it is only part of what makes an effective leader. If a leader achieves results by pushing through, around, or on to others, the results will most likely be unsustainable because the emotional toll of this leadership style fosters an environment of disengagement at best and contempt at worst.
The âbeingâ part of leadership concerns the emotional field that a leader brings to his interactions with others. “Being” an effective leader is less about what the leader accomplishes and more about what the leader makes others feel when they get things done. If a leader comes from a place of respect, compassion and curiosity – while ensuring that KPIs are met – the impact is deeply positive and leads to higher levels of satisfaction and engagement. of employees, which ultimately leads to improved productivity.
Emily Rogers, Founder and CEO of Emily Rogers Consulting + Coaching and 2021 Lakeland Chamber of Commerce Businesswoman of the Year finalist, is an Executive Coach, Business Consultant and Retreat Facilitator. She strategically advises and supports individuals and organizations in growing and achieving their full potential in a focused and balanced manner. You can connect with her at http://emilyrogers.com.