Written by: Jeanette Eriksson, 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.
Suddenly, there is so much talk about leadership, its importance, and what is required from a great leader. You would have thought that this would always have been at the forefront of any company conversations, but that has not been the case.
Over the last year there has been a leadership-boom in articles, conversations, courses, coaching, and I find it intriguing. I can’t decide whether the newfound lease of leadership-life has derived from COVID — employees feeling anxious, less resilient and needing better leadership to cope better and be their best at work or, if remote working has changed the view of leadership, hierarchy and giving staff the support and trust they always required to be happy in themselves having a sense of a clear direction and feel supported. I hope, and think, it is due to the latter. Also, I very much hope another reason for this much needed and positive development is a change in leaders’ own thinking — having a yearlong pandemic, spotlighting the requirement for trust and respect across the whole workforce, and understanding the need for everyone to be (and feel safe being) authentic, feel trusted and flourish within their self-belief.
Now, I would like to throw in my two pennies and talk about winning concept leadership. I believe it starts with being an authentic, stable leader. However, it is not enough to just be authentic.
Authenticity means to stand up for your beliefs and values which is great, but if you want to be a skilled leader, then you must bring your congruence. I hear some of you say, “What is this word you speak of?” Congruence is a term used by a humanistic psychologist — Carl Rogers, to describe a state in which a person’s ideal self and actual experience are consistent or similar. In other words, it is having the ability to say, think, and radiate views and feelings consistently. This consistency builds the solid trust needed in an organization and between a leader and their team.
If you were to be awfully specific authenticity means, "This is me and take me as I am." This quality does not necessarily require the want or the need for adaptability, which in fact is getting more and more important for us all, including for those significant leaders of today and tomorrow. So, if you combine being authentic and congruent, then my view is that you have the winning ability to constantly adjust according to your environment, which is when you and yours can fully succeed in business and management.
We have all had to adjust when we have joined a new company or workplace, which is easier for some than for others. It is not always easy but often necessary as every place is different. Adjusting is a part of winning, making changes, and building trust and relationships. My advice to anyone who is a clever, value-driven leader, who genuinely wants to make positive changes, is to decide how far you are willing to make a change in your new environment.
Look at the concept of adjustment as a rubber band and decide on how far you are willing to stretch this elastic in the environment you are in to ‘fit in." Then, decide at which point you are going to feel that the rubber band has become too stretched to continue. When you reach the far-too-stretched point, then it could be time to leave your role and plans, but not until then.
Society now needs a healthy realism and feel safe, knowing that we need to make some adjustments which we have certainly learned during the past year. We need a congruent leadership, which is consistent in thinking, acting, and speaking. This will create a sense of security, which is so needed right now — a leader, who understands the concept of the stretched rubber band. You have to accept that you need to make daily adjustments and be flexible but at the same time have full control over your inner compass so that you know your own limits. That makes it easier to stay and be resilient.
As a leader and as a human being, you need to reflect on the difference between how you perceive a situation and how the other person or other people experience it. It is really important in today’s world that we don’t force ourselves to become populist or anxious and act in ways we think we should, but really we shouldn’t. This could lead to us removing all our own great qualities and thinking.
As I consider myself a leader, or at least have been one as heading up teams and departments, during team sport captainship and as a National sports coach, and work with leaders, I try to carry the ‘great leadership’ flag through books continuously, articles, coaching work and podcasts. I try to remind everyone around me about the importance of this and how to be better. I totally encourage leaders to support and learn from each other.
It is also crucial to get as many leaders educated and trained on the new leadership style needed to navigate the fast-moving world we live in. This new world is totally built on trust, not just in your own organization but also outside of your own company. We need to start working in more integrated ecosystems, work together at different levels, cross-departmentally, and with other organizations. You can’t just sit there and be all innovative by yourself. You won’t innovate to your full potential. Instead, you need to find ways of developing and innovating your own company together with others. Which will require even more need to build trust at so many levels and directions and makes the importance of linked leadership even more important.
Let me give you a golden nugget.
However big or small, every company needs to run on the desire to create, innovate, and move forward. The best way to achieve this is to build on the employees own drive and desires. So, the first thing a leader needs to do is to tap into exactly that. Talk to your staff and establish and understand what fires them up. That is where the magic happens! Each one of your team will bring you something amazing and unique. An organization's culture and success are the total of everyone’s involvement and desire to move forward.
Many people are not aware of where their skills and passion lie and simply what drives them. This is something that a coach or a great leader can help bring out. After you have established all the inspiration, belly-fire, and skills, then you can create teams that can work across other areas. This brings new thinking and skills across the board and allows for more resource-shifting according to need, which also creates a much more flexible workforce.
To create the best flexible team, you will need to create a feeling in your people. Connect both the brain and the heart. Get everyone to invest in the vision of what you are all creating and where you are all going. Create a strong feeling of direction. This will create engagement and a feeling of importance — what we are doing is important and it means something.
When I work with companies, I always try to get to the classic why? Why are they doing what they are doing, and for whom? It is so important to believe that what they do matters and not just for themselves but for someone else too. This creates a strong commitment.
That, my friends, is what makes someone a great leader. It creates a happy team which equals to a successful team and company.
It’s about time that we build the best people we can, as nothing is a bigger win-win for all and sundry. 2021 is a new era. We have learned so much over the past year, and I think two of the key things are being in touch with how we are truly feeling and how we best interact with others. Maya Angelou said it best, “At the end of the day, people won't remember what you said or did. They will remember how you made them feel.” This is something we should always carry with us in our everyday life.
Jeanette Eriksson, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Jeanette Eriksson created Nordicly out of her passion for making people and systems work, achieve and feel better. Being Swedish, having lived in London for more than half her life, Jeanette uses innovative Scandinavian thinking in her coaching and consulting approach when working with individuals wanting to achieve personal goals and business leaders, who want to improve their own leadership skills, the happiness and productivity of their staff and the performance of their company. Having led large teams for many years whilst gaining national sports success, both as a captain and player and at the national team coaching level, Jeanette has learned all the tricks of the ‘personal and business development’ trade. Jeanette is also a best-selling author in UK, US, Canada and Mexico, by contributing to the ' 1 Habit to Thrive in a Post-Covid world' book. Whether you need help to improve yourself and pivot in our new, ever-changing world, or build your people and help them achieve clarity and progress in life and/or perform at a higher level at work, Jeanette is your Nordic(ly) solution.