I often say, “There is nothing slower than heading fast in the wrong direction.” What makes organizations grow and move in the right direction is an exponential level of self-awareness and self-evaluation, followed by consistent communication, laser focus, agility and healthy company culture. These factors work together to ultimately support conscious leadership.
In my previous Forbes article, “How To Lead Your Organization Into The Future Of Work,” I shared the importance of conscious leadership, self-awareness and self-evaluation as top leadership skills in the race of preparing for the future to compete in the present.
In this article, I am going to focus on the remaining leadership skills — communication, focus, agility and culture — that I believe leaders must pay attention to in order to create the future they wish to have.
“Consistent communication” is the ability to provide clear direction and consistent messaging, despite uncertainty and ambiguity. I have learned there is no such thing as over-communicating in the workplace. I believe simplistic and reliable communication makes the world less complex and less confusing, more understandable and, to some extent, more predictable. To be more consistent in your communication techniques as a leader, remember to:
• Keep communications simple. Focus on relevant information when you’re talking to employees and colleagues to avoid overcomplicating your message.
• Reiterate important messages using different modalities, such as following up on a conversation via email.
• Leverage the diversity of thought. Encourage open discussions, asking difficult questions and gaining a variety of viewpoints. Invite authentic listening and reflect on tough decisions.
• Manage the “HiPPO” (an acronym for the “highest-paid person’s opinion” or the “highest-paid person in the office”). Be armed with data, use facts and build consensus among others.
Chaos breeds opportunity, yet it requires effective communication to sharpen focus. Laser focus transcends ideas and insights from volatility to vision, from uncertainty to understanding, from complexity to clarity and from ambiguity to alignment.
To better your focus, spend 90% of your time executing your duties. Leave 10% for strategizing your next move. When it’s time to hold a meeting, don’t think of it as a “business review meeting”; instead, call it a “business outlook meeting” so that you are focusing on the future, rather than dwelling on the past. Use the majority of time to discuss what is working, and then address what isn’t.
“Agility” represents the ability to take effective action in complex, rapidly changing circumstances. As an agile leader, you have the ability to sense the future while competing in the present; you continually adapt to new business realities and view challenges as opportunities by rethinking past assumptions. It requires paying attention to the balance between short-term and long-term goals, providing directions while encouraging meaningful participation and fostering individual engagement and strong teamwork.
To become more agile, I recommend leaders:
• Accept that change is a new constant.
• Make plans and anticipate risks, yet be prepared to change and to adapt. It’s important to avoid spending too much time on long-term strategic plans, as you’ll need to be able to pivot as the organization changes.
• Influence and learn at the same time by making others feel safe to communicate freely, challenging them to think, soliciting feedback, asking questions and seeking guidance.
• Practice a growth mindset by viewing situations from multiple angles to generate fresh, strategic insights.
Healthy and psychologically safe organizational cultures minimize interpersonal fears for the benefits of maximizing team performance. Innovative cultures encourage people to express themselves, share concerns and mistakes and ask questions when in doubt — all without feeling ashamed or embarrassed. In return, your team feels comfortable and confident when contributing to the organization.
When the work environment has a reasonably high level of psychological safety, good things happen. I’ve seen that mistakes are often reported and corrective action is taken faster, seamless coordination across groups or departments is enabled and potentially game-changing ideas for innovation are being shared.
A few of my tips for creating these positive cultures include:
• Reevaluate what you value. Your values are your internal GPS and guide your decisions and behaviors, thus impacting the culture around you. Getting clear on what you value and leading from that space reduces complexity, struggle and stress at work.
• Watch out who you reward, promote and let go. These are the company’s values in action.
• Promote wellbeing, compassion and gratitude. Organizations nurturing support create a culture of collaborations and productivity.
• Celebrate failure to learn from mistakes. Confronting your own and others’ imperfections is a crucial element to create an environment in which anything can be discussed. This, in turn, leads to recognizing and analyzing failures early to optimize improvement and avoid costly mistakes in the future.
To realize what we don’t know it is a virtue. Equipping ourselves with the essential skills to navigate uncertain times does not necessarily shelter us from experiencing chaos, yet can make change management efforts more effective and less painful.
Leading effectively requires work and demands time, commitment and dedication — with a lot of consistency on our part. Change requires a new way of thinking and consistent access to new information. As we become less and less addicted to making decisions based on our past experiences, we start to focus more on invention and creation. Our investments in technology, training, development and business continuity start generating progress when we accept the uncomfortable truth: that we don’t have all the answers (at least not all of them at once). By staying curious and humble, we have a chance to invite generosity of interpretation, demystify danger of silence and reframe the context of reality in which we operate.
This post was originally posted at Forbes Coaches Council
Kasia is a Conscious Leadership Coach, Personal and Organizational Transformation Advocate, Trainer, Facilitator and NSC Certified Consultant. A Provocateur, Adventurist, Global Citizen, Traveler, and Himalayan Climber. She believes in irresistible power of choice, collaboration, self- awareness and living life congruent with our highest values. Through her coaching practice, she works with individuals, teams, and organizations assisting them to awaken their personal and leadership potential. In just the last eighteen (18) months, she has been privileged to work with over 1000 individuals providing 1:1coaching, facilitating experiential personal and group transformation experiences so they can live, love, lead with clarity, on purpose, and with passion.