In the last 75 days within my business, I have canceled a summit, postponed a forum, moved two other events to a digital format, while starting four smaller eight-person mastermind groups. It has been unnerving and stressful, yet my thinking has expanded. I have had to quickly change my model, my mind, and how I do my work. My coaching practice is about creating moments where I serve as a mirror to help leaders see themselves, their challenges, and their actions more clearly. I also occasionally assist them in changing their minds about how they see themselves and how they impact others. New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees recently did not realize how his words impacted his teammates and a large portion of the culture. After an emotional blow-back by his teammates, my bet is that he will change his mind about the protest of kneeling during the national anthem as a statement highlighting police violence in the black community. Brees has the opportunity to change his mind, when have you changed your mind recently?
After three decades of coaching, training, and observing, I am confident that the best teammates are comfortable with ambiguity, endlessly curious and tenacious for results. They are also emotionally healthy, allowing them the balance to be open to other opinions. Leadership is about trust, openness, inclusion, and the skill to gather diverse associates (and skills) unlike yourself. Are you a versatile creator, connecting dots as a communicator? Are you practiced at changing your mind?
Self-aware leaders assume they do not fully understand the needs and challenges of their teammates, partners, and customers. They are always reassessing their viewpoints and opinions. They are teachable. A client of mine recently shared a vulnerable insight: “I am just starting to understand how I negatively affect others. It’s not my heart, but my passion getting the best of me and hurting others. I own that and will work to change.” Versatile leaders constantly assess themselves, assuming they may be wrong. They courageously show up without a mask and do not attempt to control the narrative. Their vulnerability is a superpower and the glue that holds teams together.
THREE RECENT PERSONAL INSIGHTS
- What can you do to humanize your business relationships? In a digital world, we often lose the 800 nonverbals cues that people communicate during a 30-minute discussion. Do you truly understand the personal dynamics going on with the person you are engaging with? Being present is the “great separator.”
- 95 percent of people believe they are self-aware, but it’s actually closer to 10 -15 percent, according to psychologist Tasha Eurich. We must stay open, demand personal feedback, and assume we may not understand what’s on another’s mind. Are you creating an inclusive culture where others are candidly sharing their thoughts without a filter?
- Today is stressful for everyone and 90 percent of people do not deal with stress well. Leaders must help their team find their voice and balance. Model it and candidly share with your team what you are doing to personally stay in balance. Are you aware of how they are truly feeling?
True leadership is about bringing people (and hearts) together, not dividing them. Division is the ultimate terrorist strategy. When leaders encourage division, they steal the unit’s soul. You see this in sports teams, businesses, and in our current politics. Authentic leaders pull the very best out of teammates. They understand synergy, inclusion, and are holistic, not tribal. As General James Mattis reminded us in his open letter recently, “The Nazi slogan for destroying us … was ‘Divide and Conquer.’ Our American answer is ‘In Union there is Strength.’”
If you want a transparent inclusive culture, remember, leaders must go first.