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4 Truths About How To Be A Great Leader That Might Surprise You


The first session of our 2019 LeadFORWARD class started last week. As I prepare to work with and support a new group of accomplished leaders, my intention is to start this journey as if I’m beginning right along with them. This is our 8th LeadFORWARD class, and I want to be sure that time, confidence in my abilities, and the sense that “I’ve got this” don’t dilute my effectiveness and impact (thanks, Rick, for the advice.)

Throughout the year, we’re going to be working with our clients to strengthen their Integrated Intelligence, a model developed by Emergent that represents four key dimensions of leadership. Many are surprised at first by our focus here, but quickly realize that development in each of these areas is what’s been missing most in reaching their greatest potential. Here are four truths about leadership that might surprise you:

Truth #1:  Great leaders prioritize their physical needs (exercise, hydration, nutrition, and rest). Leading is a physical activity. Don’t believe me?  Think about the last time you sat in a lengthy meeting and all you could think about was how tired you felt from not getting enough sleep; how sluggish you feel because you haven’t worked out for two months; or that nagging stiffness in your hips that makes you wonder if you need a hip replacement. Exhaustion, lack of energy, and pain all get in the way of focus. How can you possibly be effective if your focus is impaired?

Truth #2:  Great leaders feel a sense of purpose in their work and in life. If you are feeling incongruent, start with looking at what you value, and how you live (or don’t) your values every day. We do what we value. And when we don’t, when we aren’t expressing what’s most important to us, our work and effectiveness in leading others suffers.

Truth #3:  Great leaders focus on improving their EQ (emotional intelligence) every day. Don’t get smarter, get more self-aware. Warren Bennis, a pioneer in the field of organizational development and leadership, said that IQ gets you in the door, but it’s EQ that makes you a star. Think about the leaders you’ve most enjoyed working with. What’s their secret sauce? I bet your answer is tied most to an EQ competency like coaching, mentoring, empathy, influence, or inspiration, and not IQ, like expertise, decision making, or ability to analyze. Sure, the IQ stuff is important, but if you want to improve, get better at EQ.

Truth #4:  Great leaders use their whole brain. How would you assess your ability to problem solve through logic or to analyze a situation quickly for maximum results? You’d probably say quite high. Now, how would you assess your ability to be creative, innovative, and intuitive? If you want more in these areas, you’re not alone. We live in a left-brained-dominated world. Ask Daniel Pink – he shares some very interesting research in his book, “A Whole New Mind.” Great leaders intentionally work to develop and use the capacities of their whole brain, not just part of it.

If this article has got you thinking (and feeling ?), here’s a few things you can do next:

  1. Move more. That’s it. Just move more.
  2. Get to know you better – find a values exercise online, narrow your top values down to a list of 5 – 7, and then take time to consider how to incorporate what’s most important into your life every day.
  3. Read articles on empathy and leadership. This will rock your world!
  4. Read Daniel Pink’s book, “A Whole New Mind.” Pick an exercise from his book and develop more of the magnificence of your right brain.

Lastly, call or email me – our team can help you with the EQ competencies and/or a values exercise, share insights on Daniel Pink’s book, and offer great new recipes to help with nutrition (my new favorite is “cauliflower roast.”) And don’t wait to sign up for our LeadFORWARD class in 2020 (there’s some extra perks if you sign up before June).

Keep leading!

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1 Comment

  1. Joanne Kelly on January 16, 2019 at 2:12 pm

    Thank you for this great info. I have passed the four suggestions on to several other people.

    Joanne Kelly

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