Lead Differently Lead Courageously

Leader Connecting to Subordinates

Leading Differently was the theme for 2016 NC SHRM Conference. After hearing all the speakers I walked away with several words, characteristics and actions that seem to paint a clear picture of what leading differently looks like. What rose to the very top is the notion of Courageous Leadership. I have worked with many organizations and leaders as a coach, consultant and a member of many senior teams and in my humble opinion, this is where organizational health and success begins.

Courage is a leadership trait that is developed, over time. I know courage to not be the absence of fear. Courage, to me, is more about persistence, patience, and purpose of working through the difficulties, the pain of rejection or even failure . This is especially critical as we seek to change our organizational cultures; — to support, include, and value all the team members. Lee Bolman and  Terrence Deal authors of the Wizard and the Warrior identify courage, passion, and persistence at the heart of a “warrior” leader.

So you may ask why I bring up the idea of being a warrior leader.  Well, I believe today as we consider organizational change and become more Culturally Intelligent we will need to act like warriors. Warriors committed to connecting, learning and growing propelled by our values and beliefs. We have before us opportunities to Lead Differently specifically because the individual face of leadership is changing and with that comes organizational change. A change that is  not easy to lead however if we want to be competitive and cutting edge organizations transformation will be necessary.

Leaders and leadership teams are becoming more diverse in age, gender, race than ever before. In fact, 50% of the workforce are now the millennial generation and will be moving into senior positions within the next 5 to 10 years. This is what they want and are working toward — upward mobility and fast!  With that being said, we will be in the midst of a culture shift, whether we planned it or not, so why not be intentional, thoughtful and courageous about our leadership succession planning.Talent retention is a major issue for most companies and affects the bottom line in a substantial way. To ensure we are able to minimize this cost we may consider how we can support our up and coming leaders differently.

First, most Human Resource professionals know that the traditional annual performance review is proving to be an ineffective management tool.  We have found that it is not the best way to engage and retain talent. So we may consider changing our annual performance review process to “performance conversations.” What if we set up quarterly “career advancement conversations?” (This is not an original idea though, I wish it were.) The focus of these meetings would be for the supervisor to give voice to the subordinate and listen out for what is working, inspiring and meaningful.  Having conversations that focus on the strength of the staff member and not so much on the “needs improvement or corrective actions. This was measured by Gallup  and addressed by Tom Rath the author of the book Strength Finder2.0. He was one of the keynote speakers for the conference. Conversations about individual strengths would be one strategy supporting a culture shift!


Secondly, what if we created organizations and systems that offer genuine support in the way of leadership or professional development training guiding our leaders to greatness ? Our young leaders grew up with technology at their side. This alone changes the playing field. Accessible Information, technology tools and  processes have changed, so we must change. Working globally,  remotely, and with flex, schedules have changed the organizational structures. So as we Lead Differently we will be challenged to train, coach and support our future leaders differently. Gone are the days of mandatory in-person training meetings for department and all staff.  How about relying more on project teams assessing themselves and creating their own professional development and strategic plans together with assessment tools like the Cultural Intelligence or DISC assessments?

Thirdly, what if organizationally we really asked ourselves the hard questions?  Is our management and leadership team, structure and decisions aligned with our core values? Do our values and strategies address the changing needs of our surrounding community, internal and external customers? Are we creating agile companies that allow us to be able to shift and be responsive to the diverse cultural norms around us? Are we courageous enough to empower and train each team member to be their best ? Do we celebrate them recognizing that the diversity of the individual strengths is our organization strength?  Will you, who desire to be cutting edge leaders in your industry be intentional, thoughtful and compassionate as you lead? Let us remember leading differently, leading courageously not only takes time and talent  it also requires persistence patience and purpose. I encourage you to be a principled warrior leader, Lead Differently and to Lead Courageously.

Carrie Wagner, my business partner and I are committed to being part of the solution that challenges today’s workforce. We believe that people are at their best when they feel valued for who they are (their full selves) and the unique perspective that they bring. How about you? If you value authenticity and cultural diversity, we’d love to talk with you about aligning your values with actions, systems, and practices in your workplace. Let’s start a conversation.

Elaine Robinson Beattie

Getting to the Point!


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