To be a great leader, you have to be…

S . E . L . F . L . E . S . S .

According to best-selling author of “Servant Leadership in Action” Raj Sisodia, great leaders possess

  • Strength
  • Enthusiasm
  • Love
  • Flexibility
  • Long-term orientation
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Systems intelligence
  • Spiritual intelligence

Check out this article in Inc.com for what each means.

 

 

Relationship in leadership

To be recognize as a true leader, one has To Be, To Do and To Relate.

This is the final of a 3-part series on leadership.

The value of experience is not in seeing much, but in seeing wisely. ~ William Osler

 

Experience is a great teacher. Yet we couldn’t possibly experience all that we need to lead wisely. We stumble and we make mistakes, and we look with wise eyes at the mishaps.

How do we learn? To what do we reference our words and deeds? We look to other lives lived in effective leadership, and considering what went wrong, what could be improved and how. In this process, we do not so much follow but reflect and analyse.

To lead wisely, we do not look at mere strategies and techniques, following blindly. We find what works with heart, we approach with the spirit of integrity and authenticity.

With empathy, integrity and authenticity – this is how leaders relate.

Authenticity

Know your self. What do you stand for? What is your vision for your organization, your team, your group, yourself in relation to each and every member? How will you motivate, encourage or lift another?

Be an observer of yourself. Watch your words and actions, are they congruent? Do they reflect your values?

Integrity

Be real. Are you consistent, in thought, word and deed? Do you walk the talk? Are you accountable? Do others trust you to hold firm to your beliefs? Are you worthy of trust?

Have courage. To be integritas (Latin origin, meaning “the whole”), often we have to be steadfast, to stand tall in the face of challenges and temptations to be otherwise.

Empathy

Seek to understand. Listen with your heart. Open your mind and be curious. There is much to learn and we may not know what would come our way at any moment, or from whomever.

Be in communication. Be with the people whom you work with and rely upon to get the job done. We cannot lead in isolation. Do you have the skills to convey your message? Are you approachable and supportive?

 

Before we lead, we must first be in genuine relationship and to engage our colleagues’ minds and hearts. Before we do, we are.

 

© Transfigure Therapy 2017

Emotional intelligence for lawyers & corporate executive leaders

(M)en decide far more problems by hate, or love, or lust, or rage, or sorrow, or joy, or hope, or fear, or illusion, or some other inward emotion, than by reality or authority or any legal standard, or judicial precedent, or statute.

If you are curious whose quote that is, it’s Cicero – the Roman philosopher, politician, lawyer, orator, political theorist, consul, and constitutionalist. As it turns out, human nature hasn’t changed much in two thousand years.

We’re Emotional Beings

We’re still profoundly emotional beings. EI (emotional intelligence) has come a long way since Yale research (1990) and popular books by Goleman (1995). Like the study of “mindfulness”, EI has more mainstream recognition and a greater amount of professional “success” attributed to it than IQ and technical skills.

Mindfulness Training is Gaining Professional Recognition

Gone are the days where law firms and the corporate world recruits by academic achievements and IQ alone. So what in brief, is emotional intelligence good for in the professional workplace, business and law?

  • Better judgement
  • Higher productivity
  • More team cohesion and client relationships
  • Higher sales and conversion percentages
  • Great work satisfaction in teams, leading to higher retention rates.
  • Improved customer or client service (due to improved listening and empathy skills)
  • Better organizational communication
  • More effective leadership (leading to a competitive edge).

Specifically for law firms and the daily lives of lawyers, EI can have a significant impact. Historically, the legal profession has been heavily influenced by the Stoic/Puritan frame of reference and an emphasis on ‘reason’, this is changing towards a more holistic model of human behavior.

The “Nimble Heart” in the Workplace

How might emotional intelligence help those in the Legal Profession?

  1. The ability to correctly identify client values and motivations
  2. The ability to suppress emotions that might cloud objectivity
  3. Psycho-social identification & sensitivity, namely: active listening, empathy and compassion
  4. Reading body language, non-verbal cues and facial micro emotions
  5. Correctly matching persuasion strategies with the target audience
  6. Manage stress and self-regulate effectively in high-pressured environments and long work-weeks
  7. Conflict resolution, halting escalations and defusing negative emotions
  8. Establishing rapport, trust and warmth
  9. Facilitating easy exchanges of information
  10. Adapting not just to frames of reference, but to people more effectively
  11. Influencing the emotions of others through effective communication, feedback and motivational impact.

Clearly EI embodies a broad spectrum of rather holistic “soft skills” that are essential to all professional industry for leaders, managers, consultants and employees.

Can Emotional Intelligence be Taught?

In the “real world” of corporate hierarchies and law firm politics, given that candidates have comparable IQ, experience and technical skills, EQ then becomes the unique qualifying differentiator (UQD).

There’s a significant moment now for MBA programs among others, to actively integrate EI and soft skills training in their curriculum, sometimes called applied human science.

  • Graduate leadership programs continue to integrate EI training into their programs
  • Corporate training programs now specialize in EI training
  • Emotional intelligence has been correlated with leadership qualities

 

Professional efficacy is no longer solely correlated with IQ, so what then can it be attributed to?

A Most Vital Trait in a Top CEO

For CEOs and top executives, EI has a lot to offer in terms of global corporate identity.

EI underpins the ability to inspire discretionary effort—the extent to which employees and team members go above and beyond the call of duty.

This is an “intangible” of the charismatic CEO, who champions the corporate entity internally, much as some CEOs harness their personal brand for effective PR external to the organization and corporate brand.

To earn the respect and fidelity, and to motivate and mobilize talent, are what true visionaries do.

Many HR recruiters and analytics talk about a “skills gap”, EI could well be this “gap”. What we might be seeing as well is a “leadership shortage”.

Never in human history has Emotional Intelligence been at such a higher premium. Never has leadership been such a corporate differentiator in its ability to drive ROI.

 

[An earlier version of this article was published on LinkedIn.]

 

© Transfigure Therapy 2017

The ABC of leadership

As a leader, you have to be visible.

One cannot be a leader on one’s own. To be a leader is to be recognized as one.

And to be recognized as a leader, one has to Be, to Do and to Relate.

 

This is the second post on leadership, about ‘doing’ leadership.

Leadership can be learned. It is a series of skills which, practiced over time, becomes ‘natural’… as neuroscience indicates, habit-forming. The time and effort invested to learn to lead and to lead often go unrecognized unless we truly see.

How does a leader lead?

  1. Acquire knowledge and improve

A leader aspires and is seen to be aspirational. Bearing the qualities set out in the first post about being in leadership, a leader seeks knowledge. Leaders are humble and ever prepare to admit that we do not have all the answers, that we are researching or obtaining more information, and that we are open to new idea and propositions.

Leaders will be those who seek continuous personal growth, encourage authentic interpersonal relationships, to contemplate product and ways of working beyond what is known.

  1. Bring safety and inspire

Leaders are those who create a safe space within work groups or organisations to allow for creativity to emerge and risk-taking to occur. Creative ventures can fail and this alone will be terrifying for anyone working in an environment that is not tolerant of this. Unless one knows that her job will not be jeopardised for voicing a creative new idea, for trialling an innovative process, for being herself while doing so, nothing will be proffered and all will remain the same.

By being visible in making mistakes, in admitting to mistakes, a leader demonstrates the acceptance of make mistakes, to have gotten it ‘wrong’. A leader will speak of the learning to be had and how to overcome thus signifying the will to continue the good work.

  1. Challenge and support

Leaders see the people around us – people with real emotions, with personal aspirations, hopes and joys, people who face personal trials and challenges. Most importantly, leaders see the strengths, resources and skills of those with whom we work.

With empathy and understanding, leaders challenge and support our colleagues to growth, to aspire, to improve, to be better at what they do and how they contribute to the workplace.

  1. Decide and act

Little can be achieved without our deciding to step into it. Our attention and intention to go into a space of improvement, development and innovation are critical to our leadership abilities. We take risks, we stand convicted of our decisions and we act.

The mark of a leader is one of astute discernment, borne from constant practice of intellectual, emotional and spiritual intelligence; and of incisive unwavering action.

  1. Engage and communicate

Leadership is not without its turbulence… the buzz, I call it, is what informs us. The buzz could be from our personal excitement, nerves… yes, leaders are human after all; or the resistance from within the organization; or an instinctive warning. Listen, evaluate and learn. Positive and negative buzz have lessons to teach.

Leaders engage with emotions and feelings, our own and of those around us. And instead of being a cauldron of emotions or feelings, we communicate them in a constructive way, by asking questions and listening to the answers, without judgement and prior expectations. Leaders have real conversations.

  1. Focus on vision

It is also through conversations that leaders uphold visions. It is easy with everyday humdrum of routine, unavoidable passivity and pessimism to distract us from our vision.

Leaders maintain vision and see how something fits into that vision, not welded to rigidity, instead are prepared to be reflexive.

 

Leadership requires generosity of spirit, dynamic adaptability and grounded vision, all of which are within our grasps, if we commit to it. Yes, leadership can be learned, as every element of what I have indicated above can be learned.

 

© Transfigure Therapy 2016

Being a visible leader

As a leader, you have to be visible.

One cannot be a leader on one’s own. To be a leader is to be recognized as one.

And to be recognized as a leader, one has to Be, to Do and to Relate. This post is the first of three posts on the leader within us.

Living in a world focused on productivity and efficiency, I want to speak about being in a space where the essence of our self matters as much as, if not more than, what we do and what we achieve.

What does a leader embody?

1. Be human
Leaders are first and foremost, human beings with the human need to make meaning and find purpose in life. To make meaning of our professional life requires us to be aware of who we are and why we are here, to know our raison d’être and the values which inform each of them. Take time to ponder and reflect on these. There is a time and place for stillness, quiet and solitude. Practice it.

2. Be courageous
Leaders have courage to envision a future where we can make a difference, a future where we can be of service and on a journey that is uniquely ours. We cannot ‘get’ courage, it is gained through experience. The more we practice courage, the more we feel courageous and the more we are. So say ‘yes’ to being ‘volunteered’ to present the team’s outcomes, put your hand up to organize the staff retreat, speak up for what you believe in. Every step, no matter its size, counts.

3. Be committed
Leaders are committed to the journey we have envisioned, and see with clarity the destination ahead. We are also adaptable to the challenges occurring at any moment on that journey. We are open to the possibilities that present themselves and thus responsive to the events occurring sometimes beyond our control. Do what you love. And if what you do isn’t all that you love, find within what you do, the one aspect, that gem which gives your heart a skip, that brings a smile to your face. There is always one.

4. Be curious
Leaders have a desire for life-long learning. By this, I don’t mean the next formal qualification. It is about being curious of our world, being attentive to the changes. Leaders are curious about everything and all the time. We want to know why something is so, why something must be so, how one thing can be something else, how to get something to work… And through our learning, we can sensibly anticipate what is coming. The next time someone provides you with information, adopt a curious posture, almost child-like, and ask ‘why’ and ‘how’. Go beyond the surface, probe and seek to understand.

5. Be humble
Leaders are not afraid to admit their mistakes, to take responsibility for their words and acts. Leaders are open to new, different and better ideas and solutions. Ultimately it is not about whose is better but rather about reaching our goal. Ego battles have no place in a leader’s repertoire. When you next feel threatened, when your heart constricts and your stomach is in knots, when you just want to say ‘no’, don’t. Stop and consider if it is about your ego or do you have a valid reason for those sensations.

6. Be vulnerable
To be a leader is to be in a vulnerable state. I say this because to be human is to be open to all that life throws at us, to be courageous necessarily means we will sometimes fail, by being committed we may be confronted with betrayal, being curious can lead us to paths we ought not to have taken, to be humble may expose us to ridicule and derision. Yet it is only through our vulnerability that we can experience our greatest courage, that we make authentic connections. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, there is no better or truer alternative.

7. Be mindful
Perhaps because of all the ‘be’ above, it would serve leaders well to be mindful. We need to develop a focused awareness on the present moment, to attend to what we do or say and how we carry our role, to be empathic and compassionate to those with whom we work, to model self-compassion and self-care when they are required.

Being a leader is thus about travelling deep within our self to realise that which is us, to be unafraid to show who we truly are and in that, to be vulnerable in our strength.
It is only when we know our self that we can know others, and this is crucial to being a leader.
Leaders don’t have all the answers. We don’t need to. We are the glue that holds the team together, the gentle force that progresses the goal, the presence that facilitates growth and achievement.

 

© Transfigure Therapy 2016