During changing times it’s important to continue to demonstrate your leadership – and to avoid being distracted by too may extraneous issues.
Heather Price, an international diversity expert, helped us to make links between how our unconscious biases inhibit advancing the diversity agenda. She also provided some rather compelling evidence that having women in senior leadership positions, including Board positions, significantly increases financial performance and that there is a dearth of women in such positions in New Zealand. Unconscious bias is by its nature hard to grapple with and acknowledge. Our biases are not usually logical. Biases – both conscious and unconscious – are part of our human condition. When overdone, biases are the foundation of stereotypes, prejudice and ultimately, discrimination. And they limit diversity, and thereby opportunity. They are not inherently evil, but they are limiting. Given the trickiness of this condition, it is no surprise that, as yet, there is no ready roadmap for undoing either overt or especially hidden stereotypes and prejudices. We know that conscious attitudes and beliefs can change with effort and dedication. So like a lot of things, being aware, keeping open and giving our assumptions air time in a safe environment, all help with addressing diversity and importantly with seeing opportunity for both personal and company growth.
Your Leadership Brand
Today’s leaders are becoming increasingly aware that they have a brand. As a leader, your brand equates to others’ total experience of you. You therefore have a brand, whether you like it or not.
Being at least aware of perceived inconsistencies of how the leader sees themselves relative to how others see them, can really help them to develop and grow a consistent brand and thereby retain their integrity.
Occasionally we hear executives say, ‘I don’t have time to build my brand.’ We say, as you go about your business, like it or not you are building or dismantling your brand, so make your interactions count.
Expressing ourselves in business is a great untapped resource which is just waiting to be used.
We are more likely to tell the truth when we use our bodies. Taking a leaf out of the psychodrama book, there are some powerful, non-intrusive exercises / games you can get involved in, which are quick and effective. In just five to ten minutes, using such exercises, the leader can get an accurate feel for team dynamics that would otherwise take half a day or more to uncover. We just need the confidence and an adroit facilitator to help us try it out.
Creating Awareness In The Coachee
Creating awareness is linked to ‘coaching that sticks.’ It is the ability for the coach to integrate and accurately evaluate multiple sources of information, and present these back to coachee to help them gain awareness. Creating awareness is ‘inside out’ / getting under the skin of the coachee/seeing things as they see them, whilst also making links to what is possible in their world from where the coachee currently is. This is inside-out transformational change, rather than skills based or outside-in change.
Although context is a powerful determinant in the quality of the coach-coachee relationship, being present with the coachee can really help. So just as we as a coach, are endeavouring to help the coachee with change that comes from the inside and shows itself outward, we too need to work on ourselves from inside out. There is a nice parallel here of ‘inside-outness,’ which helps with the genuineness and specialness of the coachee-coach relationship.