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Three Leadership Attributes For 2021

Here at The Leadership Coaches, we are sharing out thoughts on what is likely to emerge with regards to leadership attributes as we move through 2021.

Based on insights and trajectories from some of the well renowned thought leadership organisations, market observations and our own research with a cross section of leaders on leadership trends, we have outlined what we believe to be the key three leadership attributes for 2021 here.

Small child wearing top saying 'future leader'

Photo by Kiana Bosman on Unsplash

1. Compassionate Leadership

We lead people who are resilient, fearful, coping with the death of a loved one, parenting toddlers / school children / adult children whilst attempting to work from home. Many leaders also find themselves feeling angry about situations within their governments, Brexit, their family and their businesses. Others are frustrated with repeated lockdowns and instructions to stay at home, as well as those that wish for absolute compliance in lockdowns to fast track out of the pandemic.

These human emotions give us as leaders the opportunity to show authentic compassion and be there for people.

What Is Authentic Compassion?

Compassion is feeling empathetic to the emotional experience of another. At present, The Leadership Coaches are facilitating some workshops in which we explore being compassionate with ourselves as leaders. This is essential to recognise our own emotions, understand how we experience them and how to be kinder to ourselves when tough emotions are at play. Once we’ve achieved self-compassion, those feelings can be rekindled to show authentic compassion with others. This doesn’t mean you agree with the others perspective; but it does mean that you can feel compassion for the emotion they are feeling.

Actions speak louder than words

This week try setting yourself 2 tasks:

· Take 3 minutes for self-compassion when something happens that doesn’t feel good

· Take 3 minutes to express authentic compassion to someone else

2. Creating Connection and Inclusion

Feedback shows us that people are feeling more isolated than ever and the social connection, interaction and camaraderie are more challenging over virtual platforms. There is a slight delay, so slight it’s almost imperceptible, but this creates a challenge for our seeking system to satisfy that need for human connection.

It’s the small things like the touch of a warm handshake, the scent of another’s aftershave or perfume, or the rhythm of footwear as it moves towards you. Yet, research shows that this extends beyond the desire for just social connection.

We want to see connection across the world; we crave that our communities and workplaces take and empower action around diversity and inclusion.

We refer not only to the need to maintain momentum in Black Lives Matter outcomes, other areas of equality difference and the less previously recognises, yet now increasingly overt difference in social inequalities. Our people are also (quite rightly) telling us that climate change must be on our agenda.

What does this mean for leaders?

We have the perfect opportunity to build a wider sense of connection. Bringing people together for collaborative purpose around subjects that matter to them and help them connect their purpose to outcomes. This doesn’t mean that as leaders, we forget the day job, which would be foolish advice, however, it does mean empowering people to find a way to achieve this in creative ways perhaps combining it with the day job and creating win/win outcomes. A leader’s role here is in creating the conditions in which people feel that they can create these outcomes, feel empowered to do so and supported by leaders to make a difference.

Actions speak louder than words

This week try setting yourself 2 tasks:

· Ask a couple of colleagues when they’ve felt most socially connected with their colleagues as they’ve worked virtually

· Review your staff survey feedback on diversity and inclusion

3. Inspirational Virtual Leadership

According to McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) an estimated 20 percent of the global workforce (most of them in sectors such as finance, insurance and IT) could work the majority of its time away from the office and be just as effective.

We have heard some awe-inspiring stories of exceptional virtual leadership, moreover though are those stories of where leaders have failed to provide this leadership, leading to demotivated, stressed and unproductive colleagues.

Leading virtually does take practice and although many of the activities are similar, to have great effect virtually requires some different practices.

Take for example, a two day off site leadership think tank. That requires some creative thinking to achieve similar or improved results than a face-to-face version. Or even the line of sight from organisational objectives to individual objectives. All of these things require a leader who can apply creativity, inspirational communication and top notch engagement skills to bring together the right people, to inspire and motivate them to achieve their outcomes virtually.

Actions speak louder than words

This week try setting yourself 2 tasks:

· Call two people on the frontline in your organisation and ask them for open and honest feedback about what it’s like to work in your organisation right now. Gather a sense of how connected they are with their day job and how they contribute to the organisation.

· Ask your peers what 3 actions/behaviours have been taken to improve virtual leadership in the past year and what 3 actions/behaviours they’d like to see improved in the next year

* “Psychological safety is a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes” Amy Edmondson, Harvard Business School Professor

Leaders Of The Future

We are operating in new and exciting ways; we have the opportunity to help shape and design a future leadership population of which we are proud to be a part and which makes a sustainable difference to our colleagues, our customers, the communities we serve and, of course, our organisations.

In this blog we have highlighted our top three leadership attributes for 2021 that may help hone leaders’ development in:

1. Compassionate Leadership

2. Creating Connection and Inclusion

3. Inspirational Virtual Leadership

The Leadership Coaches are delighted to be hosting some exclusive complimentary workshops on these, so please be do connect with me to learn more about these events.

Our expert team of leadership coaches are working on both leadership team coaching and 1:1 leadership coaching to help leaders and their teams to navigate this pandemic and beyond.

To find out how we can help you, please call us on 03450 950 480. We would be more than happy to talk through the options available to you.

Author: Zoe Lewis, Director of Coaching, The Leadership Coaches; Taking Care of Leadership.



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