Be the Leader Your People Want
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In a recent Healthy Companies/Harris Poll, one clear finding emerged. A strong majority of Americans believe conscious leaders -- those aware of themselves, others and their surroundings -- can vastly improve their organization's performance. Yet the same poll revealed that only 48 percent of Americans actually think their leaders behave in a conscious way. To fill that gap, there is clearly some work to do.
So what does that mean for entrepreneurs specifically, and what can we expect to gain by more conscious leadership?
On a very high level, we’ve recently seen the impact that less-than-conscious behavior can have on the world. Following the Helsinki summit with President Putin, President Trump displayed a number of surprising and unusual behaviors for a head of state. First, he openly challenged the official findings of his own intelligence agencies. Second, he did not share the specifics, or even the generalities, of the two-hour conversation with his counterpart. And third, he heaped praise on a leader who does not share our nation’s basic values. As a result, the president’s team and much of the nation were sent scrambling to figure out what it all meant and what to do next.
Even with an entrepreneur and businessman leading the country, it might not be easy to see these actions as particularly relevant to we what we do in business every day, but they are fundamental to great leadership -- and to conscious leadership in particular.
Leadership lesson 1: Value your team.
As entrepreneurs, we often represent our organization. We find ourselves in public settings where questions are asked and circumstances may change quickly. How prepared are we for the variety of things that may happen, and how will we respond? It’s critical to understand your role when speaking publicly and to have touchstones that are unmovable even under pressure. One of the most important of these touchstones is supporting your team and valuing their work in indisputable and unequivocal ways, especially in front of an audience.
Leadership lesson 2: Communicate your vision.
Though things can move quickly, and it may not always be convenient, it’s essential to share information so that stakeholders understand where you want to go and what their role will be in getting there. Too often, we default to a need-to-know mentality, or we rely on existing, inadequate systems to disseminate information, hoping that others will pass along key take-aways. As an entrepreneur, understanding what is being communicated and how is perhaps the biggest part of your job. It’s simply not something you can get wrong and still be successful.
Leadership lesson 3: Pick your people carefully.
With hard work and grit -- and maybe a little luck -- success will come your way. When it does, you’ll need more people. They might be employees. They might be vendors. They might be partners. But with each person who joins your team or becomes part of your ecosystem, you’ll have a choice to make, and that choice will speak volumes about the organization you’re creating. Do the people you bring on board share your organization’s values? Are they admired and successful in their fields? How able are they to support your mission? Who you associate with is a choice, and your employees will be watching and striving to understand how new people fit in and why they were chosen. The answer to that question should be obvious -- or made clear -- to everyone.
Another key finding of the Harris Poll is that 86 percent of Americans feel there would be less turmoil in the world if leaders were more conscious. The solution lies in striving to understand ourselves, paying attention to the perspectives of others and developing an appreciation for the world around us. With this focus, we can help reduce turmoil in our daily lives and in the lives of those we work with.