Leadership Best Practices don’t make a great leader. But here’s what actually does.
I desperately try to stop my knees from shaking, as we wait to present the outcome of a very critical project to the CEO. Barely a couple of years out of university, I am still very much a rookie. I can hardly believe that my boss entrusted a rookie with something so high visibility on the CEO’s goals, gave me the autonomy to do it unconventionally, and dragged me into a presentation with this iconic CEO. He took a chance on me, even when I hadn’t earned his trust yet. Joydeep is one of the best bosses I’ve ever worked with. What stands out the most about him is his authenticity.
Let’s take another story.
The frustrated leadership team has gathered in a conference room for what seems like the thousandth review of the same results. “I’ve just got 2 more resignations in my team” says Maya. “These pointless reviews exponentially increase the workload on the team, and they can’t get the critical deliverables out”, she says. The team has come to expect this knee jerk reaction, panic, excessive control and reviews whenever their leader is under pressure. They sense his mistrust, and it crushes their spirit.
This leader is amazing on his best days, but the opposite when he is under pressure. He doesn’t realize the impact he has on his team. He doesn’t know what triggers him, or who he becomes when he is under stress.
Like me, I am sure you know both these kinds of leaders.
Who do you think is the right leader for the future of work?
We are at THE tipping point of the Greatest Leadership Challenge of our times.
Leadership Best Practices are NOT the answer
Think of the best leaders you’ve ever worked with, you may not remember their best practices but you will remember who they were at their core.
In our Listening Labs, we invited people to talk to us, about their best and worst day at work. They shared intensely personal stories of the leaders who helped them thrive, and the leaders who were soul crushing.
They talked about the leaders they trusted, the ones who had their back, the ones who cared for them, took a chance on them. Interestingly, they didn’t focus on the tactics or ‘best practices’ either. Rather they focused on who the leaders were at their core and how they showed up consistently.
We talked to several beloved leaders as well. Interestingly, they didn’t talk about best practices either! They talked about their journey to discover who they wanted to be as a leader, their purpose, the aha moments and internal struggles. We’ve seen this in our own journeys too. This inner work is crucial in our journey to grow as a leader.
Best practices are about activity. The inner work is about delivering an outcome.
What makes a good leader – the missing link
Most of us fall into leadership. We rarely have the time or space to reflect on who we are, who we want to be as a leader, and what is the impact we want to have on our team. We rarely have the opportunity to do the inner work, that is necessary in our journey to grow as a leader.
As we face rising headwinds and expectations, it becomes increasingly difficult for us to operate. Leaders can quickly go from being busy and effective, to being too busy to be effective.
Leaders need a strong anchor. Without a strong anchor, leaders can be like a leaf blowing aimlessly in a storm – no direction, no grounding, no consistency, no impact.
And the strongest anchor we have, is our authenticity, and it comes from having a clear purpose, values and a seamless integration between who we are, how we lead and how we translate our purpose into everyday actions.
But, how do we OPERATIONALIZE AUTHENTICITY? How do we translate intent into everyday actions?
Unfortunately, very few organizations focus on this inner work in the design of their programs.
So, what can we do?
We need to equip leaders to help their team thrive in this complex new world of work. We need to shift our focus from peddling best practices as the answer to developing leaders, and start focusing on helping leaders do the inner work and build a strong core that stands the test of time.
Mindful Leadership is the greatest unlock for the future of work.
What is Mindful Leadership
Mindful leadership is about connecting who you are, to how you lead, to translating your purpose into everyday actions that help your teams and businesses thrive.
We see this consistently in the leaders we interview on The Mindful Leadership Podcast. We started this podcast because we often see successful people, but never get a glimpse into the crossroads they were at, how they made choices that defined their life, what were they thinking, and why is it important to them. You will hear stories of how these leaders make the choice to translate their purpose into everyday actions, even under pressure, even in crises, even at crossroads, and that is what sets them apart.
Isn’t that the kind of leader we all want to work for?
In our leader workshops and coaching, we use proven tools as well as proprietary methodologies to help leaders on this journey. We can help you on your journey to develop leaders of the future.
Learn more about Mindful Leadership and what we do here.
If you want to learn more about how Mindful Leadership can help your business, schedule a 30 min free call (link in comments). You get to pick our brain, we get to pick yours…great deal!
Schedule a 30 minute FREE call
Data Sources: Gallup 2022 Global Workplace Study; Deloitte Human Capital Trends 2020; Cigna’s Loneliness Index data, Journal of Organizational Effectiveness: People and Performance, 2022; DDI Global Leadership Forecast 2021