I’ve been doing a series of Leadership Seminars and I’m learning a lot! The first two seminars were titled Leadership and Self Discovery and Leadership and Understanding Others. The third in the series is coming right up on March 6 in Peoria, Illinois and is titled, Leadership and Collaboration.
The ideas and activities I’ve been presenting in the series come from my years of study and experience as a classroom teacher and principal, as a parent educator, as a teacher trainer and most recently as a professional coach working with business leaders. I owe a great deal of my knowledge base to the work I’ve done with the Positive Discipline program, a series of books written by Jane Nelsen and a score of other writers which is based on the psychology of Alfred Adler.
I’m used to teachers and parents being a bit surprised by the idea that children actually do better when they feel better and that solutions may be more effective when handling mistakes than punishment. Somehow, I thought these progressive ideas would be more familiar to business professionals especially when the focus is on developing ourselves as leaders!
But, not so! I’ve noticed that the idea of mutual respect as the primary precursor to effective leadership is still a cutting edge idea. Oh, we may agree that it sounds good. We may even agree that it’s necessary. But really knowing what it looks like and sounds like? We need lots of help with that.
For me the idea boils down to a solid understanding of how to be both firm in addressing your needs and kind in addressing the needs of other individuals at the same time. You can see how this is unusual for us when society has trained us to focus on the needs of others before our own. The first step is to get past the fear of being perceived as selfish. The second step is to take the time to consider what we need in the moment. And the third step is to have faith that the other person(s) can actually handle hearing what you need.
I was coaching a business owner this morning on this very topic. When I asked her what it would take for her to operate from this idea of mutual respect she said, courage and trust. It will take courage for her to state what she needs and it will take trust in herself, in the other person, and in her intention to be a positive force in the world.
I believe the world is hungry for a new kind of leadership. Leaders of the new order must have the skills to understand themselves and what their styles invite from others. They must be able to empathize and to understand what motivates different individuals. They must be able to collaborate with others to develop new products and to solve problems in order to make the world a better place both now and in the future.