Long before the mass exodus from the work cubicle to a desk in the spare room, leading with soul was known to inspire and exponentially improve engagement, teamwork, effectiveness and commitment to purpose. Now more than ever, unique leadership skills are needed, and they will be needed when we return to the cubicle or the corner office. As Bolman and Deal wrote, “Across sectors and levels, organizations are starved for the leadership they need.”
Healthy leadership takes time and attention in the best of days, but now it is as important as ever. Many leaders have the desire and know there is a better way, but they lack the time or support to navigate a path to more soulful leadership. Now is a great time to nurture your existing abilities to lead with soul or to begin cultivating those skills.
Soulful leadership skills have little to do with rigid power and control, management and accountability. Effective leadership calls on something deeper, riskier and more profound, but the results can be very rich no matter how you measure the bottom line. Over the next while I’ll share a few simple and some complex ideas on moving to deeper levels of leading and caring for teams.
People need to know you care. If you are leading from a distance right now, this might be hard to demonstrate. Having a daily check-in for the sole purpose of seeing how your team members are doing shows your interest. Share your own perspective and feelings about this new situation as well. People are not needing a false hero; they are needing an authentic leader who values them not just as an employee but as a person. You will reap rewards in engagement, mutual caring and action. Hint: if you think you can’t get through to people, or wonder if they are engaged, consider how often you’ve invested in authentic connection. (This is true whether in person or remotely.) Yes, it all takes time, but now you need to be effective rather than efficient.
Here’s a scary one. Let go of control – control is an illusion. By now we know that, but this has been a new lesson for a lot of people. I suspect those who lead with soul or have developed Spiritual Intelligence are adapting easier than most. Spiritual Intelligence is defined as “the ability to behave with wisdom and compassion while maintaining inner and outer peace regardless of the situation.” (Cindy Wigglesworth)
As a leader, you are a significant thread in the tapestry of your organization. When you are comfortable in the chaos you can help your team creatively contribute their threads to weave something beautiful and new! People are looking for meaning, significance and wholeness. In addition to needing your authenticity, your team needs hope. Hope will give team members the energy to adapt with confidence and engage in responsible freedom for this new remote work culture. (Watch for more on that.)
I wish everyone well in this unusual time. If you want to chat about what is going on with you, reach me through my website any time. Kathymacfarlane.com