Look closely anywhere in corporate America, the government, and even sports and you’ll realize: we haven’t had enough great leadership in the past…and we don’t have enough now. It’s time to change the way we talk about leaders, how we perceive people’s readiness to lead, and how we encourage the behaviors we want to see all leaders demonstrate in the future.
As organizations gear up for the much anticipated “return to work,” we encourage clients to look beyond “best practices” and consider taking a trauma-informed approach to their plans. Why?
Because whether you realize it or not, everyone in this country has experienced trauma in the past 13 months. Some have experienced several traumas, but no one has been immune.
With vaccination rates increasing rapidly, offices are slowly beginning to open back up–many planning to implement a hybrid approach. And we recognize that some employees have been in person and on the job for the duration of the pandemic.
What’s important to note is that not every organization has an adequate plan in place yet to enable their employees’ success in a hybrid setting. We know from experience that face time with employees is important. And even as some recognized a benefit to slowing down (or stopping) travel for business meetings and team gatherings, we’ve also seen that Zoom-only might not be a viable long-term replacement for all of our pre-COVID in-person interactions.
We fielded a lot of inquiries in 2020 from leaders who said, “We want to become an anti-racist organization. Can you help us?”
Our first response is curiosity. What does that mean to you? Why do you want to become an anti-racist organization? What would be better at your organization if you did this work? How would you know you’d succeeded? That last one is a loaded question because the work never ends. However, there are measurable indicators of success along the way.
Developing diverse leadership: it’s not a pipeline problem. The default way talent pipelines operate is via the path of least resistance.
People tap the shoulders of people who are top of mind. Who is that? Thanks to unconscious bias, it’s usually white, cis-gendered, tall, reasonably attractive men. That’s because the vast majority of people picture someone like that when asked to “picture a leader.”
There are a number of other factors that go into this path of least resistance, beyond unconscious bias. Men tend to brag about themselves more than women do, generally speaking. People of color often have tremendous skills that aren’t traditionally considered to be leadership skills, but that are greatly in demand in these VUCA times.
From speeches to debates to emails to old-fashioned door-to-door canvassing—everything in a political campaign is designed to figure out how to get people to do things. Not just actual voting; it’s also about donating, volunteering and talking to your friends and family on the candidates’ behalf. This effort to influence behavior is very complementary to leadership.
I got a big, in-person lesson in all of this during this year’s election. For the first time, I volunteered for a campaign and went door-to-door to get out the vote. I learned so much about what it is that campaigns do to influence actions and change behavior and what we can learn from it.
In any growing organization, it’s important for team leaders to be visible. On the surface, this serves a practical purpose: the CEO simply can’t be the provider of and answer for all things, so team leaders can help fill that gap.
More importantly, coaxing team leads into more visible leadership fosters stronger communication, engagement, culture and purpose throughout the organization. And it sets up the leadership team to take on a bigger role and, ultimately, grow beyond the organization.
Leaders must possess myriad skills to get where they are and to be successful. And the list of skills necessary to lead may be different depending on who you ask.
Leaders who are already pivoting their companies to thrive during crisis likely possess at least two of these skills already. However, all four of these skills are infinite skills.
With the nomination of Kamala Harris for Vice President of the United States, we heard an echoing rally cry from people of all gender identities, races and geographies. As the first Black woman and first Indian woman on a major presidential ticket, she is also known as an outspoken leader in the U.S. Senate.
At Kadabra, we couldn’t be more thrilled to see Harris on the Democratic ticket, because it’s a sign that our collective thinking around leadership is evolving. And while the tide may be turning, there’s still much work to do.
Unless people see leaders who look, sound and come from backgrounds similar to theirs in prominent leadership roles, they are much less likely to aspire to those roles. With Harris elevated to a place of high visibility and international leadership, so many more young people in the United States will see themselves as potential leaders someday, too.
Now more than ever, emotional intelligence is the most important skill a leader can learn. And yes, anyone can learn how to be more emotionally intelligent. People call emotional intelligence a soft skill, but we consider it an essential skill.
The so-called soft skills are the prime differentiator between great leaders and mediocre ones in the coming years. Senior leaders are aware of this, and they lament the lack of proficiency they see in candidates. In a recent LinkedIn study, 89% of executives reported that it’s difficult to find people with soft skills. And virtually every soft skill—from conflict management to teamwork, communication skills to problem solving—is related to emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of, manage and express one’s own emotions. It’s also the ability to handle interpersonal relationships with wisdom and empathy. There are four aspects of emotional intelligence, also known as EQ. They are: self-awareness, self-management, other/social awareness, and relationship management.