Did you watch “Wall-e”? A cartoon movie where things went terribly wrong for the human race and Wall-e is the main character and in fact, the only character remaining on our planet and recycling the garbage?
Well, we are not there yet and hopefully we’ll never get there… But we certainly see the changes going on in the world, including our everyday work. The environment has become more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) where fast changes are a norm and technological transformation is a reality, including the growing presence of AI in our lives.
How to navigate that landscape if you are leader?
PwC published a report on the factors shaping the labor market until 2030, in which we read about the 4 worlds of the future labor market:
- – red, in which innovation rules;
- – blue, in which corporations rule;
- – green, in which corporate social responsibility will count the most;
- – yellow, in which the priority will be the employee’s interest.
The report has a very short but direct message for the leaders: “Act today”.
Daniel Goleman in his last article on LinkedIn draws attention to emotional intelligence as your competetive edge in the world of AI. Harvard Business Review has long emphasized that the development of AI will also make the importance of our emotional intelligence grow.
But how to act? What to focus on? And is it really only the emotional intelligence that will allow leaders to prepare today for the challenges of tomorrow? The answers can be summarized in 1 sentence: developing the skills of a conscious leader. But here comes another question: conscious leadership – what does that mean? Let’s take a closer look.
What are the key skills of a conscious leader?
Emotional intelligence – how do you develop it?
We hear and read a lot about the benefits of AI and the development of technology, but interestingly, in many studies and articles, emotional intelligence is emphasized as our “human” distinguishing factor. Something that AI will not develop in the near future and but will be in high demand.
Why? We live in a time of VUCA, constant, sometimes unpredictable change, and finding ourselves in this world requires self-awareness and mental resilience. And a large dose of emotional intelligence. Reflecting on your emotional intelligence, you can ask yourself a few questions for self-reflection:
- As a leader, can you recognize and name the emotions that accompany you during the day?
- Can you express and manage your emotions if needed?
- Do you notice the emotions of others?
- Can you manage them? Make people laugh, calm down, bring back the seriousness of the situation etc.?
Over the years, I have conducted a vast number of workshops and implemented development programs for leaders and managers, where one of the elements of training was individual assessment of emotional intelligence. In each case, the results gave food for thought and opened up space for more insight and self-work. The ability to develop emotional intelligence was, is and will be a leverage for conscious leadership.
Dynamic communication – how do you manage it?
Dynamic meaning what? It is not about the ability to navigate and react quickly in the maze of social media and corporate messengers. Dynamic communication really focuses on you, your attention to your own reactions and ability to adapt the tone, style of communication to the situation and the recipient.
Example? Maybe Monday is not your favorite day of the week, you are under the weather, on Mondays there is always something that must go wrong, you have no patience to listen to others … Possible effect? An employee who will dare to approach you for the first time and ask for help will hear your tired, bored voice saying dry “Not now”. But by developing the skill of dynamic communication, you could also realize there is no reason to misdirect frustration, fine tune the message, say hello with a smile and more energy, “Thank you for asking. We can look at it together – in half an hour I’ll have time. Is that okay with you?”
A few questions you can think about today in the context of your dynamic communication:
- Are you aware of the internal mechanisms that govern your communication?
- Are you aware of what energy you communicate with (destructive, empowering or mixed)?
- Are you aware of the impact of your communication style on the team?
- What would be your ideal image as a “communicator” leader?
High energy relations – how do you build them?
Many leaders nowadays have a sense of fatigue and overwhelm – due to the number of challenges, the number of tasks, the number of changes, the growing responsibility. It often turns out that we invest our energy in dealing with relationships at work that in fact drain us out of energy.
In the context of building relationships, you may think about:
- Working with which people drains you out of energy?
- Where do you have people around you who “charge” your batteries?
- With what energy do you enter into relation with others and how do you interact with them? Do you constantly complain and the atmosphere in the room is dark and gloomy, or maybe you walk frustrated all the time and there is a grave silence in the team? Or, on the contrary, despite the challenges, you inspire others with positive energy and look for solutions together?
It is not an art to establish a work relationship – well, in most of the cases it is not – but in the era of VUCA, AI and digital transformation, the ability to build high energy relations becomes a crucial skill so that they strengthen us and not drain us of energy.
Iinfluencing others – what’s your driving force?
- Are you aware of the mechanism behind your influencing approach to deliver tasks and projects?
- And more importantly: do you recognize what internal motives guide you?
Influencing others is associated with building high-energy relationships, because the ability to engage rather than impose, inspire, and not order/demand seems to have become a necessity. Working as a leader or manager over the years, you might have developed your own preferred style of influence. However, looking at the dynamic pace of changes in the work environment, it is becoming increasingly desirable to know what styles of influence you can apply as a leader as well as your ability to match the style to the situation.
Health and well-being – how do you take care of it?
The topic of corporate well-being, relaxation rooms, massages at work etc. practically did not exist 10-15 years ago (not counting integration events, but these probably had a various effect on our health :)) . Today, majority of the companies pay a lot of attention to the extra “benefits” they can offer to attract the candidates. But working as a leader do you make use these “benefits” or do you work overtime putting work above the health and well-being.
Working as a business trainer, mentor and coach, I see that more and more leaders are waking up with the awareness that in order to have strength and energy to take care of their team, they need to take care of themselves first. But when I ask “What have you done today for yourself?” sometimes I hear silence in return …
Managing self in time and finding balance – do you pay attention to it?
Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, John, Kate, Tom – we all have 24 hours. Not a second less. Not a second more. As a leader how do you tackle between managing your own tasks and the tasks of your team.
- Do you feel overwhelmed and running against the clock? What’s causing that?
- What’s your daily routine like?
- What’s your prioritizing approach?
- If you procrastinate, what makes you put things off?
- What would need to change for you to have a peace of mind and sense of balance?
Similarly to health and well-being managing self in time and creating a sense of balance will become a must have skill. The alternative is getting one step closer to joining “The burnout club” as mentioned in one of the Forbes articles.
Problem solving and productivity.
These 2 skills will still be needed by a conscious leader, but in a new context.
- Are you aware of your limiting beliefs, assumptions and interpretations when solving problems
- How do you understand what drives you when making decisions?
- When planning tasks, do you think “I have to” or “I want to”?
- Do you work based on the so-called holographic thinking? In other words, do you use your logic, intuition and emotions?
Usually, when thinking about productivity, problem solving or decision making, we look at the outside world and the possible effects of our actions. In the context of conscious leadership, this insight into yourself, and not just looking at the outside world, will allow you to take full advantage of these last 2 skills.
Coming back to the question I asked at the beginning of this article “What is conscious leadership”? one might get the impression that the skills of the future for conscious leaders focus on the so-called soft aspects of leadership combined with taking care of health, well-being and balance. However, the key to understanding what conscious leadership is is to appreciate the importance of self-reflection, mindfulness, self-awareness and holographic thinking (based on your intuition, logic and emotions).