Eleanor Roosevelt once stated: “A woman is like a tea bag - you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water”. Often when people are promoted into leadership positions, they are being truly tested in a manner that they have not previously experienced. It is only when people are truly tested that their true leadership qualities emerge.
During the recent economic downturn, there was a renewed focus on what leadership is. During such difficult times is when people require a leader to be at their best. During that financial crisis it was often stated that it was unprecedented, that we were living in a VUCA world. The US military coined the acronym VUCA: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous. The VUCA acronym is something that many leaders can identify with. Being in a VUCA world can lead to doubt or a lack of clarity. People question where to focus their efforts, how they can handle a situation in a better manner or where they can achieve the best results. These challenges can be daunting for some as they want to create an impact as a leader.
When we think about leaders, often the world stage is thought of. Let us make parallels of leadership in the workplace to the world scene. During those uncertain times, strong leaders truly emerged. People such as Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Barack Obama spring to mind immediately. These leaders possessed numerous leadership traits such as clarity of vision, resilience, poise, decisive and confident when navigating through unknown terrain.
Much like how POTUS is measured on their first 100 days in office, people often question how they will make an immediate impact. The Irish proverb ‘a good start is half the battle’ is very apt when leaders are starting out. Firstly, having a sense of your leadership style and being confident in what you offer will stand well to you as you face challenges. Secondly, how to be an adaptive leader i.e. utilising your leadership toolkit to best motivate others. Thirdly, emotional intelligence inform how you handle yourself in challenging situations, deal with conflict and make the right decisions for you, the organisation and the team. Lastly, creating a followership and empowering your team through your interpersonal communications.
Many people when they are promoted are often challenged to how they can combine their own role with many demands and complexity within their own team and organisation. How do they move from operating mode to a more conscious leadership and strategic mode?
The new demands of the workplace where the pace is so fast moving while being always switched on due to technology means that moving into a conscious leadership and strategic mode is quite the challenge.
As an executive coach and corporate trainer I have the privilege to work with many leaders. These leaders thrive once they arrive into an environment that allows them to focus on their challenges away from the glare of the spotlight, which often burns brightly on them during their work hours. People regularly flourish when they can easily discuss mutual challenges with peers, as often leadership is a lonely path. By being challenged to think differently through theoretical insights from others in a peer-to-peer setting allows people to flourish as leaders. Participants will often see the true impact of their leadership almost immediately when they return to the workplace and begin to adopt the learnings to their unique challenges.
Returning to the leadership of President Barack Obama, his leadership legacy will be even more greatly enhanced as his leadership style is of great contrast to that of President Donald Trump. Leadership is all about decision making, which choice will you make. Will you be the leader who is stuck on operator mode: rash, unable to deal with conflict, unable to create a followership and have a disunited team. Or will you choose to be more strategic, emotionally intelligent, inspire a high performance team and achieve the vision and results that you truly desire. Your path to high impact leadership can start by reflecting on these questions below:
Do you thrive in a challenging environment?
How do you want your team members remember you?
How will you make that impact on your career and organisation?
What will your leadership legacy be?
What impact will you make?