Number 26 in a Series
How would you define leadership and do you consider yourself to be an effective leader?
When in positions of power and influence such as parents, business owners, supervisor, educators, and coaches we are leaders. With leadership comes an awesome responsibility for how we use our influence.
As a leader, I have the best of intentions to treat people respectfully. When I was a business owner I adopted a beautiful mission statement full of caring and concern. I held ethical standards in the highest regard. But, leadership also requires accomplishing things.
At times, even when I cherished heartfelt values my efforts succumbed to profits, schedules or obedience. And, of course, what incessantly tested my resolve to be the leader I ideally wanted to be where those pesky upsets such as unmet expectations and differences of opinion.
The often unconscious fear that my heart will get in the way of accomplishing my goals put me in the vise of what seemed to be two mutually exclusive options–getting things done or living up to my standards. When fear predominated and I lost my heart connection, two predominant leadership styles held sway – “authoritarian” or “permissive.”
The authoritarian style operated on the principle that “The ends justify the means.” Power was used to justify all kinds of behaviors even if those behaviors disrespected the feelings and rights of others. In the permissive style, out of a desire to avoid conflict, I gave up what I wanted and allowed others to run over me.
In either case, my own integrity as well as that of others, was compromised. When disrespectful behavior was the norm, trust was eroded, relationships, productivity, and creativity suffered, and a whole host of other inevitable problems ensued.
A very different leadership style might be called “Heart-Connected Leadership.” Such leadership is sometimes thought of as a natural skill in women. But when in power, both women and men often resort to using their power to accomplish their goals (think of how often mother’s try to get children to do what they want by using authoritarian ways or guilt).
Heart-connected leadership requires learning how to use power with constituents rather using power over them. Rather than to dominate, power is used to create a safe place for people to work together and assists each person in becoming more personally responsible. I am a different kind of coach who knows how to build a community in which trust, respect, and learning are paramount.
As a heart-connected leader, I model the respectful ideal of using my power with constituents by:
- Mediating conflicts and helping people take responsibility for their part in the problem.
- Including people in decisions that affect them rather than taking sides or tying to affix blame.
- Assisting others in learning to be more respectful of each other.
- Creating an environment that encourages honest communication and creativity.
- Assisting others to find meaning and connection in their lives.
- Being open to learning about myself.
The effectiveness of heart-connected leadership comes from dealing with upsets within the paradigm of making respectful behavior as important as attaining tasks and goals. (See Post #14 – Walking the Talk of Being Respectful: R=T&G).
When compassion and learning are present, a process takes place that values the integrity of everyone involved without compromising the task or goal to be accomplished. Both become achievable, rather than mutually exclusive. The belief that effectiveness is serious impaired by compassion is completely put to rest.
By interacting respectfully with constituents I assist them in learning to find the answers regarding important life decisions within themselves. Gaining self-trust empowers them as I facilitate the unfolding of their souls.
For Your Journey
- Evaluate your leadership style in terms of how you respond to difficult situations. What are the effects of being authoritarian or permissive?
- Share-it-forward. Share with the people you lead, what you’ve learned about effective leadership and ask for their help in identifying areas where you can be more effective.
First in the Series: From Head to Heart
Next Week: # 27 – With the Strength of Humility Comes the Gift of Serenity
BECOMING YOUR OWN HERO illuminates a path available to us all to attain the kind of personal power demonstrated by our most revered and inspirational heroes. Marianne Williamson, #1 New York Times best-selling author said, “I highly recommend this illuminating and touching look into the possibilities of staying connected to our hearts, even when facing difficult situations.”
Photo: Flickr / Kennisland