A new year brings new things into focus for me. As I reflect over the past few years and decades I love to put things into prospective. What is evident as I ponder on the topic of leadership is that so many are stuck in the old, outdated ways of managing people. We still rely too heavily on what I call the “default” ego-driven style of interacting and directing people at work. After 40 years of heavy attention, emphasis and new information about better ways to lead people we still haven’t been able to increase the aggregate measured levels of employee engagement, according to both Gallop and Carnegie. An unforgiving 70% of employees are still disengaged at work – at a time where we need all hands on deck, fully engaged, giving their all willingly and effectively.
The one way out of this disengagement quagmire is through what I call developing more “Elite Leaders.” These men and women have and are awakening to new truths and realities within their own mental, emotional and spiritual aspects about who they truly are. They are choosing to show up in their leadership roles in more authentic ways, which translates into more engagement between them and their people. While still fewer in number, we are gaining and my hope is that soon this better version of leading people will be the standard.
Elite leaders know the way to true success is to become and be their highest and best selves, in turn helping their people do the same under their mentorship and guidance. They know when authenticity, caring, openness, honesty, lived values and a higher purpose are present everyone involved is much more alive, effective, productive, collaborative and creative. This increased energy is directed at running a much higher performing organization benefiting all stakeholders.
In my life-long journey to better understand the art and science of leading people I have identified twelve distinct phases /stages of being what I term “An Elite Leader.” Elite leaders combine: high skill sets of being effective business people in their areas of expertise: a deep level of self-awareness, both of their internal states and of how they impact their exterior world and relationships; with an ability to orchestrate various stakeholders to align, engage and drive the vision and purpose of the organization for the benefit and prosperity of all.
I invite you to look at these twelve as doorways into the same house. You are the house, as both a person and a leader. These twelve doors open into rooms that make up who you are, aspects of you and what you have to offer. When your doors are open you are more fully developed, connected and expressing your authentic self, thus allowing your own unique authentic leadership style to be revealed. Life is always more rich, full, joyful and meaningful when we come to it as our authentic self. As an elite, authentic leader you are much more effective in helping others realize who they are, adept at creating safe spaces where trust is built, and foster cultures of highly aligned, engaged human beings working toward outcomes from which all stakeholders can benefit.
- Personal Perception. Self-awareness is the cornerstone to living consciously, intentionally, authentically. How do we wake up, access, assess, and get real with ourselves first? How can we move beyond the bounds of ego-centric living and see the deeper layers of who we are?
- Presence. How do we stay more in the present moment, more mindful, and not allow our thoughts and emotions to hijack us back into the past we can’t change, or thrust us into the future that hasn’t happened yet?
- Past Presumptions. Our beliefs, fears, and shadows drive so much of our life. Have we taken time to self-reflect on the current validity and truth of what has been programmed into us from past experience in the light of our current levels of maturity, awareness and reality?
- Principles. Values and virtues drive our motivations, character and behaviors. Are you aware of your core values, which virtues you adhere to, and how you express them in your daily life? Does your team and organization live by their defined core values?
- Passion. Most people think passion is something that is done with the soul intention of gaining enjoyment. Consider for a moment that you, your whole being, when fully alive and expressed as your authentic self is passion manifested. What would life be like if you felt more alive, connected and fulfilled?
- Purpose. Do you have a sense of what your life has been and is all about? Do you feel compelled to follow a certain path? Is a vocation calling you? Life lived with purpose, on purpose, offers infinite levels of joy, fulfilment, connection and prosperity.
- Perspective. When we lift our sights above the moment-to-moment, day-by-day reactivity, quiet our thoughts, and set new desires and intentions for life lived better, a new vision develops. When we can see more clearly and in ways that allow others to obtain benefit our authentic leadership has a healthy compass by which to engage others. This leads to deeper, more effective and prosperous activities.
- People. When we expand our own levels of consciousness about ourselves we can effectively translate that wisdom into how we see, interact and lead others. Understanding human nature is a huge component to being an authentic leader. Knowing what makes people tick, how they can communicate and relate to each other in more effective ways is such a powerful tool to express how much you care.
- Process. Life is all about systems interacting with each other. Patterns of thought, mechanics of motion, flow of energy-things-people, rules, regulations and more compose the almost infinite systems that run our lives. As we enhance our abilities to see beyond what’s right in front of us, when we can get ‘above the trees’ so to speak and see how people and systems intertwine we can begin to conceive new healthy, productive, sustainable alternatives.
- Power. When more than one of us comes together in an atmosphere of trust, safety, caring and connection, people are given the opportunity for their own personal and professional growth. As your people connect to their own unique aspects of authenticity, they will be so much more effective at problem-solving, conflict-resolution, working collaboratively while meeting/exceeding expectations.
- Prosperity & Proliferation. As Elite, authentic leaders, how can we help all our stakeholders benefit from their interaction with us, our team, and our organizations? How can we help spread the healthy, sustainable aspects of doing business ‘for good’ while enjoying the fruits of such?
- Peace. People everywhere share the same desires: to live life in peace, contentment, well-being, with happiness, joy and connection to others. Elite leaders know this and keep these outcomes top-of-mind as they interact with people and make decisions that affect stakeholders.
Join me on the journey to exploring, learning and mastering these 12 aspects of Elite Leadership. Let me know your thoughts and questions and let’s see how we can be of service to each other as we tap into the unlimited wealth of the human spirit!
“When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves” . . . Lao Tzu