Have Things Changed as a Leader?

I've just finished a job with a client where I went back into an operational leadership role. In doing so, it's allowed me to reflect on what being a leader means to me.

As Michelle Buck, Clinical Professor of Leadership at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, says; “Leadership is not a title. Leadership is not a position, but rather leadership is a mindset. Leadership is a way of being”.

I wholeheartedly believe in what she says. When everything that's been familiar around us in terms of the "status quo" is thrown into turmoil, it's important to hold onto something. For me, it's my values and purpose and as a leader; doing the right thing, and being human! In these times of constant change and transition, it's important to me that what I bring (and believe I have always brought) is individual adaptive leadership and turning up as my true self. Being human has always been my mantra, and is the ethos of my entire business.

Over the past nine months it's been refreshing to see other leaders “be human”; from children or pets walking in while they're on a Zoom call, to forgetting to unmute and having an amazing conversation with themselves - oh, the number of times I've done this..!

I've always said that the greatest leaders are those who are comfortable that they don’t have all the answers, and that it's OK to learn - pretty much what we've all been doing of late. It's about that open, growth-based mindset - to know it's OK to not know!

As leaders, it's about creating a sense of "psychological safety" for those around you. I had to learn in the unknown; learning with people who were also learning when we didn’t have government guidelines to dictate what the procedures were to bring key workers back into the workplace safely etc. First and foremost, it was about doing the right thing and ensuring that my clients’ employees were safe. Creating that sense of safety was achieved by living by my values of being open and honest, and ensuring that my team felt comfortable enough to speak up. It was also about me sharing when I was struggling and finding things difficult!

As a leader;

Realise that each person in your team is an individual, that they could have lots going on, and that COVID-19 has flung even more at them;
Aspire to be brave - do what it takes to create that sense of safety for people, and;
Do embrace thinking more broadly and creatively. As Buck says; “embrace "both/and" thinking” as opposed to “either/or” thinking!

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