Christina, could you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am a Leadership Consultant and Coach. I help individual and businesses think differently. I led and managed teams for some 30 years before I created “People Discovery” my Leadership Practice.
I have worked with businesses of all sizes and across all sectors. I am an FCIPD qualified practitioner, having spent some years in HR, which I believe rounded my leadership experience, and enabled me to view people development from manyangles. My philosophy is based on the People Discovery Leadership Development Model , which supports leaders and managers becoming self-aware, harnessing their intrinsic qualities and being able to utilise their growing self-awareness and confidence when managing their teams. This calls for a very different way of thinking, and because it’s a different mindset, often clients find it difficult to visualise or perceive the benefits until they’ve experienced it. What I do know is that once they have, they will never return to old habits and ways of doing things.
How do you define leadership?
Leadership has two aspects for me. The first is that of self leadership. As humans we simply are unable to give anything to anyone else unless it’s inside of us. For me a leader will “lead themselves first” and that takes a certain discipline in mindset and behaviours. I believe that self leadership or another way of putting it, being self – actualised, or being one’s own person, or knowing oneself, is the true freedom most of us search for; often for many years. The second aspect is leading others. There are many leadership styles and theories out there, but a true leader who captures the hearts and minds of their team, in my experience, will concentrate on bringing the best out of their people, helping them to grow and develop self awareness also. They believe in their people because they understand themselves and by doing so, understand what others are capable of.
Is it true that for the most of us we resist change?
I think we are confused about change, and this is where the resistance lies. My article on Logical levels discusses where change needs to take place. The biggest resistance is where we try to change behaviour, skills, culture or values etc, and we have not been successful in changing beliefs, or identity. When I say beliefs, I do not mean fundemental personal beliefs, but beliefs about the success or opportunities, or the vision of the business. Also one of the biggest resistence to change is the lack of self worth an employee has about the difference they make in a business. I have seen many organisations change structures, training etc, but if the people believe a certain way about their employer or their business, or indeed their capabilities, then change can be just skin deep, and only briefly makes a difference before slipping back to old habits, which conform to embedded beliefs, or an outdated identity.
Leadership, why is it important for us?
Globally and across business, a new paradigm is needed. The old ways of profit above great service, and budgets before people, are disappearing. The best companies are making these changes, although they are still far and between. Working with a business owner fairly recently, employees felt they were only there to make money for the Directors. This information was visibily upsetting for the Director, who stated unequivocally, that the business was about creating a great team and great customer service, with making money somewhere after this. These weren’t the messages being received by employees, and many assumptions were being made on historical stories. There is a new requirement on true leaders to navigate the terrain to create a new paradigm which people can have faith in based on a whole new way of working. In short it calls for a different mindset, and it is those people who have unearthed this mindset within them who will become leaders, no matter what their role in the actual business.
How is humility important to the success of the leader?
Humility is essential. Humility enables a leader to be able to identify with others, in their strengths, weaknesses, celebrations and dark nights of the soul equally. Humility is essential for a leader to be able to understand they don’t have all the answers, giving others the benefit of the doubt and being able to move forward with true integrity. My belief is and has been for many years, that everyone is equally valuable as a human being. That’s not to say you don’t deal with behaviours appropriately, but you do dignify the human being at all times. I think sometimes this is a difficult concept for some leaders to get their heads around, given my experience over the years.
Does a good leader in today’s world need to balance both the goal achievement part with the people skills part?
Yes of course. Much depends on the function of a leader. I spoke before about people being leaders because of their mindset, or wholeheartedness, and sometimes they just lead because they are a great example. But for the purposes of world leaders, business or organisational leaders, they wouldn’t be leading without a purpose in mind. Part of the leader mindset is to set out the vision and engage hearts and minds of others to achieve whatever the purpose is. Without a common purpose and being able to actually set out what they are meant to do then it would be a rudderless ship. I also believe that a business has to be financially viable, although it should not be the purpose of the business. It’s that old chestnut “its not about the money, it’s what the money enables you to do”, is the overriding principle here.
Christina, thank you!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all AILM