Updated: Jun 17, 2020
Written by: Tamra Andress, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
We’ve been fashioned to formulate a man-made version of a leader, the version that has risen from the ashes to claim the “American Dream”. Our understanding has been that leadership wears a suit, speaks loudly and casts vision. And yet, in time, performance often takes over, and passion is stifled by perfectionism and production. Thus, we find ourselves on a seemingly endless search for leaders who possess the mental and moral qualities we hold sacred.
As a result, generations are finding comfort in placing their trust in superheroes more often than leaders, unknowingly led by fear rather than hope. The superhero carries the indestructible, always “for good” feature, that our media drenched society wants desperately to be true. And while I believe there are many common day heroes represented throughout a vast number of fields of ingenuity, service and humanitarian advocates, the question remains... Who is leading the mass majority, the ones seeking guidance, assistance, motivation and inspiration? Who is leading those gripped by the false perfectionists, those feeling less-than about their own capabilities or those seeking common-day superheroes that may seem too far out of reach for their direct access?
Being a leader is not a momentary position, it’s a lifetime responsibility and one that is an innate component to one’s natural gifting. Surely, there are facets that may be taught and enhanced over time, but this gift rests firmly on embedded qualities simply being crafted for impact (I recommend, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey).
Often, the wrong people are thrust into positions that need to be filled, risking entire company cultures and long-term growth. There are highly effective managers that often lack the ability to lead. A title can deem anyone as a liaison, but without the “IT factor”, those being led will stand still instead of having intentional, positive, forward progression or necessary rallied passion. Now more than ever, as times are shifting at rapid speed, traditional workplaces are moving to virtual platforms, and “work from home” employees are increasing in numbers, we need unconventional leaders who can stand the test of time and screen.
As entrepreneurs and business leaders, I see you on the edge of your seat, ready to check the boxes and deem yourself fit. I love that passion; I share it and applaud it, but I’d really encourage us all to investigate internally before identifying or claiming one of these methods as our own. If we pick without a true desire for intimacy or self-reflection within the action, we become the lost leader who has led our teams or communities to a place of stalemate and confusion. In order to choose effectively and wisely, with full scope on the needs of those we lead, we must take off the lens of what we were taught a leader should look like and how they should perform. Instead of head pick up heart. Let’s get to it…
Here are 10 unconventional ways to lead in our virtual world:
Celebrate Failure: Failure is a state of mind. Failing means you know what NOT to do next time, and it pushes you towards the next best learning opportunity. (Idea: Have a Fail Forward celebration when something doesn’t work.)
Authenticity: Perfectionism is not the point of leadership. We are called higher beyond the façade to another code of authenticity, which offers transparency in our integrity. (Idea: Offer cross-team character testimonials during team meetings.)
Creativity: Bust out the art supplies. Stop requesting computerized everything. Get the child-like doodling back into your business setting. Inventions are often doodled first.
Group Challenges: Outside of an inner office goal, set a challenge that can create healthy habits aside from the job titles. This community-building activity gives everyone a sense of connectivity and fun. (Hint: Choose something everyone can get behind. Setting a goal to do a couch to 5k challenge when no one likes to run, is not ideal! Another example: Have coffee with one new team member a month.)
Value trading: Invest in your people’s passions – see how it connects you deeper and creates trust within your relationship. (Idea: Buy something from their side hobby business or get something you know they like and try it with them.)
Cross-sharing: As you lead, be led. Everyone has an ability, a gifting, a unique value. Discover what that is in people and help them develop their voice to share with others.
Exploring: Get to know your team on a deeper level. (Idea: Take quizzes, like the enneagram test or Brene’s value test, together and cultivate conversations around them.) This deeper understanding cultivates connectivity and understanding.
Advocating: You are your team’s cheerleader. The more you advocate for them, the more they advocate for you. Give them recognition. Praise their efforts. Let them lead the conversation when sharing to the managers, etc. Put their name where it belongs.
Self-Care: Be the example and gift them the opportunity to invest in themselves emotionally, physically and spiritually. (Ideas: Offer mindfulness practices during the workday, exercise lunch breaks, gym membership, etc. Coordinate an afternoon off the computer/out of the office.)
Vulnerability: Don’t be afraid to be REAL. By being the first to share the difficult and the Fail Forward moments, we become accessible for connection. (Recommend: Dare to Lead by Brene Brown)
Please know that the achiever in me (enneagram 3 over here) wants to claim all 10 of these methods quickly, but effective leadership doesn’t do #allthethings all the time. They do a few things REALLY well. Before we head off to start grooming ourselves in the 10 unconventional ways to lead, please keep this one critical concept in the forefront of your mind; we are all human and imperfectly perfect. So even if someone hits the nail on the head 9 out of 10 times, grace still abounds on the 1 time they get it wrong. If our leadership styles reflect our humanity, especially through #2 and #10, we are setting ourselves up to have a safety net when we fall (and we will) vs. no one to help pick us up.
Leadership is a human practice done with superhuman guidance. Lean into the whispers of those that surround you and know heart always wins.
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Tamra Andress, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Tamra is an entrepreneurial passionista with a heart for illuminating purpose and light within women as their go-to business bestie. She helps launch and grow purposed kingdom businesses alongside her coaching clients with emphasis on the alignment of their mind, body and spirit - with true belief that wealth starts on the inside. She is a certified ordained minister, podcaster, author and international retreat host. A blessed wife and mama of 2 littles. A born and raised beach babe. A lifetime fitness lover and dancer. An organic proponent, with a YOLO side sweet tooth. Living life one God wink to the next.