Thoughts on Leadership

Leadership is most often defined as “how to achieve an outcome” vs “how to inspire an outcome”. The best leaders are not those who are the best at completing a task or meeting a goal, they are the people who can inspire others to do their best work.

Leaders who nurture the best traits of individuals they work with, adapting their teaching and mentoring to bring out the best in folks, are the ones who are highly successful in leading organizational change, fostering innovation and embracing creativity.

Leaders coach the TEAM – not the individual – and provide valuable context on what the objective is and why it’s important. How that objective is achieved has many paths, a great leader recognizes that and allows for the innovation/creativity to develop and arise from their teams.

We must understand the difference between a leader and a boss.

A boss will tell you what to do and how to do it.

A leader will first ask “what should we do and how should we do it?”, then share needed context to frame the issue/problem/solution as a guide.

Humility in leadership is relatively new, but is being well received, especially in the midst of a global pandemic. Fatigue, stress, personal health, mental health, familial responsibilities have all been thrust into the forefront of many workplace conversations, thereby highlighting the opportunity for leaders to lean into this “human” side of leadership. By being relatable, admitting failings and challenges, leaders are establishing a stronger trust relationship as they are becoming more relatable.

What’s missing in leadership today:

  1. Humility – leaders fail, leaders take risks, leaders are human
  2. Trust – hire the best people, give them context and access to information, and then set them free to do their best work.
  3. Psychological safety.
  4. Leaving your ego at the door.
  5. Being compassionate as to the wellbeing of the employee outside the workplace.
  6. Providing wellness days as a norm and supporting the reduction of all stressors in the work place.

As organizations grow, leaders often impose tighter controls on their employees to prevent data leaks, conflicts of interest, confidentiality issues, etc. However, these increased controls stifle curiosity and creativity as individuals are prevented from asking questions and learning about the whole picture.

These restrictions also indicate a lack of trust top-down, and suddenly the sandbox in which employees can create and innovate becomes smaller, more monitored, and tightly walled off. As a result, we often see multiple teams in an organization working on similar projects and solving the same problems. Because of these organizational walls, collaboration and communication has suffered. Trust has deteriorated not just top-down, but across the organization as well.