Straight from the horse’s mouth…
According to the Diamond Model of Leadership, however, congruence is one of the four essential qualities of leadership. Alongside attention, direction and energy, congruence completes the formula for successful leadership. These qualities are relevant on both an individual, team and organisational level.
Setting direction is an important role for any leadership group. And purpose sets the direction in a meaningful way. Without this nothing makes sense. This is not to say that the direction won’t change. In fact, change is constant in this VUCA (vulnerable, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world we live in.
Providing attention to others is important, particularly as a leader if you want your colleagues and team members to feel valued and heard. Equally important is paying attention to the environment to be able to respond with agility to change.
rom my experience as a leadership coach, I can tell you for certain that leadership skills are a work in progress, developed over the course of our lives and refined again and again. To do this successfully requires humility – an acknowledgement that you cannot know everything and there’s always more to learn.
Nelson Mandela once said: “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”
Perseverance is a quality that every good leader possesses. Life is not just about having skills or talent but about following them through.
Perseverance is important in tough times when it can be most tempting to give up. Being a business owner and a horse owner (they go together for me) continually teaches me so much about perseverance.
Horses can teach us much about intention. They pick up on any incongruence between our intentions and actions. It’s not airy-fairy horse whisperer stuff – as a prey animal, they need to be highly sensitive and attuned to even the slightest changes in their environment for mere survival. So you can’t hide behind your corporate persona from a horse to the real you, they see right through to the real you.
How do we effectively manage conflict in our teams?
While there are many different answers, I like to think first about how everyone has their own unique communication style and how understanding this goes a long way in managing conflict. Afterall, conflict is most often caused by miscommunication.
Let’s talk about motivation.
People are motivated by a range of things in their work and life, from career goals to money to personal and family goals. However, what lies underneath all this is a simple fact:
What motivates us is what aligns with our purpose.
Some lessons on being a good negotiator which you can use as a leader:
Remain calm, and keep your emotions in check
Use self-awareness to see how you come across to the other person
Be a good communicator and state your point clearly
Listen carefully so you can understand the other’s point of view.
orses keenly sense when someone is impatient and respond accordingly – no amount of pulling will make them move faster. When working with horses, we have a bit of a mantra: “act like you have five minutes and it’ll take all day, act like you have all day and it’ll take five minutes.”
Patience, and the calm that it brings, is super important when working with people too. Especially when working with teams. We are all different so team dynamics can be a source of frustration especially with a looming deadline.
Developing interpersonal skills is a critical step to improving your leadership. Having the confidence to read situations, understand the feelings and motivations of others as well as the bravery to communicate honestly will reap benefits and also inspire a team.
I’ll never forget a lesson my horses once taught me about composure. They were jumpier, less co-operative. It was only at that point that I realised: my anxiety was sky-high. And, despite telling myself that I was composed, the horses could sense otherwise. What a lesson on how your own composure impacts those around you! If a leader doesn’t maintain composure then it filters through to everyone.
Last year, we had a man attend one of our team development programs who was very task-oriented and a high achiever in his role before he moved into leadership. However, it was clear to us right away that the team he was now leading did not find him approachable. This...
For something that we do day in day out, listening takes a surprising amount of practice, particularly active listening. Done well, it helps your emotional connection with others no end.
Work and life can’t be serious all the time. And sometimes when faced with tough situations, have to make a choice between falling into despair and laughing it off. Think how you can use humour today in the workplace. Laughter creates connection through engagement. I suggest laughing off and learning from a mistake instead of getting upset about it. After all, “laughter is the best medicine”
Compassion can mean everything from looking after the most vulnerable in our community, to helping a friend or neighbour having a tough time, to being a good listener. Compassion is also an essential part of being a good leader, helping to build trust and bring out the best in people. A compassionate leader is likely to have a happy and highly functioning team.
How can you practise compassion as a leader? Well, there’s lots of ways to go about it:
Always try to see situations from another’s perspective
Appreciate that there are different types of personalities who react to situations in different ways
Accept without judgement. Horses are wonderful at taking people as they come, and we should all strive to do the same.
As I reflect on the year, I hear many people say how glad they are that it is nearly over and how next year can only get better. (Sounds familiar lol). But I would like to us all to reflect on the positives of the year that was.
We can thank the C-word virus for forcing many of us to make changes that were overdue and necessary. We learnt how flexible working environments can be, how adaptable we are, the importance of caring for others, how fragile and robust we can be.
Are you getting enough sleep?
If not, it can be a difficult problem to fix!
That’s why I’ve looked to horses for some inspiration…
Why? Well, horses are much better than us at taking care of their physical needs They listen to their bodies far more than we do and those of their herds.
Many of us and our teams are feeling tired and even burnt out after a difficult year.
A strong leader gives themself permission to relax, setting a good example for their team and encouraging others to take time to recuperate as well.
It’s just so important.
Relaxing also involves switching off mentally as well as physically.
“The best leaders never stop learning.”
Donald T Philips, writer.
I often get asked what the biggest challenge is in being a leader. My answer: you never stop learning. So, I decided to share some of the leadership lessons I learnt this year.
Positivity has power
Be aware of your impact upon others
Look after yourself