I am often asked ‘What makes great leadership?’ There is no simple answer really, leadership is a billion pound industry that is constantly emerging and crosses the borders of business, organisational development, education, politics, neuroscience, spirituality and social science. But after daily exploration in this field my humble opinion is this:
Great leadership is a unique combination of competence and consciousness.
Competence is pretty much a given; to lead people you have to know what you are talking about in your specific field. However, there are many talented, knowledgeable and competent people who don’t lead well. This is where consciousness comes in.
The (Basic) Science:
The Universal Model of Leadership is based on theory by Robert Kegan who is a leading Psychologist, particularly renown for his research on Adult Stages of development – similar to child stages of development. This research (and many others) shows that as adults, human beings can grow, and if they do, they grow through predictable stages of consciousness. These stages are known as Ego, Reactive, Creative, Integral and Unity.* Studies have shown that leadership effectiveness is greatly influenced by the stage of mind through which the leader is operating. This basically means that as our levels of consciousness evolves our leadership effectiveness increases.
An important aspect to note here is that as adults we can all develop and increase our level of consciousness but it is not assured. In order to develop we have to dedicated time and commitment to our evolution. This commitment is what makes leaders great.
You may be thinking after all this how do I become more conscious? If you are that is great and the first step! There are loads of ways to start your journey of evolution. Remember leadership starts with self so first thing first:
Invest in yourself. Personal development is the starting point. Remember that your business is only as effective as its leaders.
Discover your behavioural blind spots by asking for feedback or taking a 360. I advise The Leadership Circle Profile, it is by far the richest 360 assessment I have experienced.
Do something new, this can be anything! Learning a new practice increases our consciousness, so get creative and start learning.
Get present. When we are living in the moment we are more aware of our environment and our feelings. We also spend less time in the land of mind or story telling. How many of you re-live a memory over and over and over again, or constantly worry about the future? See my last blog for more on this.
Question your internal beliefs and assumptions. How do they serve you? Where do they come from? Many of us have beliefs that are actually holding us back. Common beliefs can include; ‘To be successful I have to win’, ‘Good enough is not enough’, ‘Good girls don’t interrupt’, ‘Showing emotions is weak’ and a very common one ‘If I am liked I am safe’.
Get a coach -You would get a coach, teacher or trainer if you were learning a new sport or practice. When growing yourself hire a professional to guide your journey.
Too many ‘leaders’ think that the problems they face are external to them. We must evolve ourselves and our perspectives in order to evolve as leaders. When we become conscious of the way we act and understand why, we are conscious and at choice. This advances our leadership from being reactive to creative and when we are leading from a creative mindset we are able create in ways that were not possible before.
If you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done. ~Thomas Jefferson
*Names of stages change depending on the study but they all follow the same pattern. For more information on the stages mentioned above a great source is Mastering Leadership