Are you tired of trying to run faster and faster on the treadmill of everyday executive life?
Would you prefer to be a more strategic leader who honours your aspirations, lives by your intrinsic values, consciously creates a more empowering workplace for your people where they can learn and grow, and brings more awareness to how you can create a better world for the customers and communities you serve?
In BAU we always seem to be on the run. There are continuous meetings to attend, deadlines to meet and decisions to make. This leads to anxiety, stress and ultimately burnout or a sense of giving up and just getting things done as needed. Either way we become numb to the people around us and settle for living an exhausting daily life full of hustle and bustle.
But what if you could rise above the noise and operate much more strategically?
What if you could liberate your real potential to become the inspiring strategic leader that is latent within you and desperate to breakthrough?! This would enable you to enjoy a more meaningful and fulfilling life, make a bigger difference and really leverage your capacity and talents to do the really valuable work that you’re truly energised by and make your life worthwhile.
In my PhD Research Study with nine senior executives amongst some 50 coaching clients – all of whom made a quantum shift in their leadership capacity inside 12 months (find out more here), they found that they could create their own leadership culture within their organization, notwithstanding the cultural norms around them.
By blending their positional authority as a leader of their division with their own personal authenticity, they stopped mirroring the reactive behaviours around them, and instead, modeled their own take on how to operate as strategic and inspiring leaders. They created a new “normal” that led to quantum leaps in people engagement, productivity, creativity, wellbeing and overall performance.
Here are the four critical steps.
1. Create a Transformational Strategic Framework
Create a transformational strategic framework for your division by setting an inspiring purpose, vision, values and measurable strategic outcomes with your people as well as identifying the transformational shifts in performance and culture to realize your vision, the key principles to guide decision-making and the key strategic initiatives that will enable the desired results to be achieved.
These elements have the effect of:
- Empowering your people to make decisions and take accountability
- Lifting your perspective from monitoring activities and projects to overseeing the overall program of work and outcomes to be achieved
- Making your work become much more meaningful and valuable when viewed in the light of purposeful aspirations and meaningful goals.
2. Create a Dynamic Diary Rhythm
Create a Dynamic Diary Rhythm in your schedule so that you are running a series of channels or highways systematically based on the people you need to engage with, rather than focusing on the activities that you are concerned with. Once you have the channels or highways all set up, the work will naturally flow through them and you will be not be mired or overwhelmed by the volume of work. Your channels will automatically ensure you give attention to your strategic priorities.
Taking this approach enables you to
- Rise above the noise and operate strategically!
- Give attention to coaching and mentoring your team, reporting to your leader on progress and challenges, engaging with your colleagues and other stakeholders to share perspectives on the work before you so that you are truly collaborating
- Save an enormous amount of conscious energy that is otherwise spent on navigating a changing schedule week-by-week and day-by-day! You can use this bonus of conscious energy on the strategic issues and interpersonal dynamics that require your attention. Find out more here.
3. Become Mindful of Your Leadership Behaviour
Become mindfully aware of your behaviour as a leader in terms of the impact of every thought, word and action on your own sense of wellbeing and on all the people you interact with. Inspiring leaders take a humanistic approach to leadership in that they genuinely respect others by consistently extending kindness and encouragement to them. This requires being positive in all forms of expression and showing gratitude for all elements in your life.
Becoming mindful requires
- Deleting negative thoughts and overriding them with new positive thoughts so that you reprogram your brain – generating positive empowering thoughts repeatedly will rewire your brain
- Appreciating that every interpersonal dynamic or life experience is either a needed lesson or a well-deserved blessing. If you can interpret any unwanted dynamic or event in terms of what it is showing or teaching you about yourself, and then changing your own approach to the situation, everything around you will change.
- Understanding that anything that triggers a negative emotional reaction within you, is simply your signalling system that an old hurt is ready to heal. By finding the source of the behaviour in your past, identifying what you resent or regret, and then offering forgiveness, the hurt will heal and your emotional triggers will dissipate. This heart-centred process gradually leads to peace of mind.
4. Create a Safe Haven of Mutual Respect
Create a safe haven for all your people by inviting everyone to lift their standards of self-expression to the same high standard of excellence you hold for yourself. These high standards can be based on your selected set of values. Find out more about creating a values-based culture here.
The key is to speak up in the moment whenever you see any conversation or behaviour that is “below the line” and ensure your team of managers do the same. This will make everyone feel safe and respected and lead to the development of mutual trust. In this type of culture, people develop confidence, innovate and collaborate.
Courageous Caring Conversation
The best way to speak up is to hold what I call a Courageous Caring Conversation. It involves the following three steps, with a pause between each step to enable the other person to respond.
The first time you do this can be personally challenging. You may feel anxiety but you can channel this fear into realizing that this is exactly the type of exhilarating turning point that you need to create your leadership culture. Each time you do this it gets easier and once you’ve spoken up courageously three times, your brain will be rewired and the anxiety will have dissipated.
Here are the three steps in a Courageous Caring Conversation (TIP):
- Speak the TRUTH about the style of communication in an encouraging way e.g. I think we could talk about this in a different way. Speaking like that makes people feel … but if we take this approach then …
- Talk about the IMPLICATIONS of continuing the undesirable behaviour e.g. If we continue to blame our colleagues for this, we’re going to create an “us and them” situation where we won’t get the support we will need from them in the future … we’re all in this together …
- Create a turning POINT that is either a decision or action that must be taken instead e.g. From now on let’s not blame others and instead appreciate them for doing the best they can do and focus on how we might be able to improve the situation so that we all benefit …
Bring Your Vision, Values and Voice to Life
These four critical and significant steps are taken from the 7-Steps to create a Strategic Operating System and bring your Vision, Values and Voice to life, and a 12-step framework to develop your holistic leadership capacity in terms of self-awareness, emotional resilience, mindful agility and spiritual intelligence.
They provide a platform for you to blend your positional authority with your personal authenticity and enable the people you lead and connect with to enjoy the three intrinsic human needs for personal autonomy, the opportunity to serve others, and the ability to grow and develop so that we realize more of our own unique potential to make a difference in the lives of others.
If you’d like to boost your capacity as an inspiring, strategic leader, connect with me today. I’d love to hear from you as I’m very excited about working with some new coaching clients. To find out more about my coaching methodology and successful track record in coaching senior executives, click here.
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It’s my intent to enable clients make the quantum shift from business operations management to inspiring strategic leadership so they can bring their Vision, Values and Voice to life, create an amazing workplace and generate awesome results! Click here to find out more.
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All the very best,
Antoinette Braks is an Executive Coach in Strategic and Holistic Leadership with 25+ years international experience. She has led People and Culture with Shell in Latin America and Africa, and Leadership Capital Solutions with Korn Ferry Asia Pacific. She has an MBA from London Business School and is currently completing a PhD in the psychology of leadership.
Antoinette is also the author of Executive SOS.
She loves her work as an Executive Coach, leading strategic off-sites for Executive Teams and running Leadership Development Programs in organizations.