Hello Kerners, the latest podcast is here and it’s on repeat because we’ve got the amazing Roberta Ronsivalle-Pearce, leadership and team coach, in conversation with Nat. Tackling what it means to be a leader today, they ask what that looks like to women (and men!), and how softer skills play an integral part to that journey.
We know more women are needed to fill leadership roles across all industries, but what if we start equipping ourselves with how we can change our thinking to be the leaders we want to be. Here we challenge some myths:
Leadership doesn’t ‘belong’ to me
We have a model of leadership that is very male oriented. Historical conventions dictate how men and women are meant to behave, and historically we’ve been rewarded for those attributes. Men are strong, assertive, providers, with positive aggressive traits. Women are rewarded for breadth of their vocabulary and listening skills, nurturing, and are naturally more empathetic.
It’s no surprise then that the standard model of a strong, risk-taking visionary leader who leads everything and everyone from the front is traditionally male, but it’s changing. In line with new ways of thinking around social constructs, businesses are realising that having a much more diverse set of skills bring much betters leader to the table.
We’re going to go beyond that – new generations already are – as boundaries between traditional male/female behaviours are becoming more and more delineated.
The incredible opportunity for women right now is not to think you have to fit into the mould – because there is no mould. As women, we can redefine what leadership means for us, in a much larger, more authentic way.
Does this mean the future of business is more feminine?
No. It takes complex skills to be successful in leadership roles and the world of work today.
We need more men in the room
Something fantastic happening in KTG is that we’re seeing more men in the room. Shock. And naturally, whilst it’s slightly confronting to hear the current model is male and egocentric, interestingly they’re quite offended that they’re not seen to have those sensibilities or skills it’s assumed women possess. It’s not that other parties don’thave these skills – it’s that they don’t tend to find them until they’re in a position to use them.
Embrace the paradox
There are women who shy away from leadership because it’s associated with ego and power, and a lot of women want to move from compassion, social intelligence, generosity, and empathy. It doesn’t matter what age or position you’re in:
You can be a decisive leader and empathetic
You can have a vision and let others have a vision
You can have power and compassion
You can have an ego and be generous, and socially intelligent
Whether you’re just starting out, you want to take the next step, or you want to feel more comfortable in the position you’ve already managed to achieve – we say it’s ok to understand what’s needed and allow feelings and emotional intelligence in the office, to embrace relational and social intelligence, read the room, have awareness of our feelings and share it with others to create a sense of trust. Go find your authentic self in leadership and you’ll give permission for everyone else to be authentic, too.
The emerging face of leadership
Guess what? It’s not just one leader sitting at the top. Leadership isn’t being in the front all the time, it’s is about taking the lead but having that ability to co-lead with someone else from the front, sides or the back. Co-responsibility and co-creation is the future of work and it’s far less draining, because with a greater the distribution of leadership skills, you get a greater benefit for the team around you.
Notice when you’re in a group and with others where you feel more comfortable – in the front. Co-lead with someone, and explore leading from the back to see what happens to you and to others.
Leadership manifests in different ways, and diversity – gender equality with men and women and women in particular, is already showing us that younger leaders are ready for it, so a generational gap already exists. Younger leaders already talk the talk, they understand what a new model of leadership and they’re longing for it, as it is resisted by the older generation.
Am I too old, too young, too early, too late?
You can lead now, you don’t need to be the Account Director or the Head of something to lead, because the opportunity might be in this job, equally it maybe in the next. It’s not something that happens whenyou’re a manager, director or a family, social groups when there’s always an opportunity to find your leadership self before the role comes.
Find a mentor (klaxon alert – new KTG mentoring intake this July [add link] because coaching culture helps you ask the important questions and use this exploration to allow yourself to refine as you go.
What does your leadership look like?
If leadership is an act of service, then this sort of self-management starts from within. Begin by asking what your leadership is about? Ask how you lead yourself? Do you have an authentic reason for wanting to lead? And why? Finding your broader purpose stops it becoming an egocentric activity, because by being active and present you’re consciously getting a sense of what’s required of you.
Reflect on the inner purpose and your authentic self to give that value and bring it forward.
In reality, hold that thought and keep returning to ‘what’s the impact I want to have’, by observing and questioning yourself time and time again.
Confidence is the c-word
How do women find the confidence to lead?
The super short answer to this is that you never find it, you refine it. Work on it like a muscle you have to constantly practice. We all have life affirming and life limiting voices with us – a million voices, in fact. The truth is they’ll always be there, you need to get better at not hearing them every time. Really get to know them, where they come from and when they’re sounding very loud and obsessive. Then when they come, you can move them to the side. Focus on tiny increments and you’ll feel stronger all the time
But what if I don’t have the skills?
A lot of skills you already have. You’re already 70% of the way there. The other skills – like anybody else – you’re going to learn.
Are you sitting uncomfortably?
Great. It might feel counter-intuitive, but if you’re feeling really uncomfortable that’s exactly where you need to be for growth. Outside your comfort zone is a really important place to be. Allowing ourselves to say, ‘yes I’ll do this thing that scares me’, remember the objective isn’t to fail, it’s to learn. If you reconstruct your fear of failure in this new way, you’ll keep going.
FEAR OF FAILURE
It’s important for people in positions of leadership to talk authentically about how it can be scary at times. If you don’t feel confident sometimes it’s totally ok, you’re human – you’re on the path.
Because the higher you climb the greater the feeling is that you can’tfail. You are in a leadership position, you had better get this right. Wrong. There is permission for failure, but it’s how you deal with it that makes a difference. By sharing openly with your team, showing vulnerability can be inspiring.
Perfection is not the goal.You’re not perfect, you’re going to mess up. By letting go of all that, and bringing your authentic self into the moment – you can lead.
Listen to the podcast now at https://goo.gl/7wuvNL.