As we engage with the dynamics of the New Year, it’s the right time to draw upon the Enlightened Leadership principles that I have introduced previously, to set some powerful resolutions that can make 2016 a year of positive change. These can be paradigm shifts that enable you to see your place in work differently, to affect others more powerfully, or to make significant contributions to the world. Drawing a fresh perspective from these principles and some active participation, you can make strong progress throughout 2016.
Be mindful about the Truth
As a leader or manager, be mindful that when you’re communicating with people, that you communicate what is true, rather than with a spin to get a specific result (called manipulating people). People will give honest responses when they know that you truly want to know the truth and want to gain an accurate view of the situation. More accurate information determines better decisions. More honesty in any situation facilitates more Truth to appear, allowing participants to communicate openly, to put relevant information before you, adding to the whole matter under consideration. By people sharing what is personally true and honest for them, it enables the best collective Truth to become clear. It is also through the sharing of views that a collective intelligence on what is the best response can naturally appear. Enlightened leaders are able to ask for the truth, listen to the truth and hear the truth, however personally distressing it is, because they know that the outcome of such a process will generate better information and decisions than they could have come to on their own.
Respect your colleagues
An easy way to connect with this resolution is to consider every person who works for you is a volunteer – who is contributing their life and precious time to engage in fulfilling your and the company’s mission. For the truth is that each person could choose not to work for you and the organisation and could be working for another. This is the radical new perspective that GenY employees bring to any workplace – they quite happily voice their intentions to be off elsewhere after their brief stay with you! A manager who can adopt this perspective finds that they certainly respect their people more. Managers that assume that ‘people only work here to gain a salary and do not have much choice’ are disrespectful and demeaning and thereby do not get the best from their staff.
Attend to what is just and fair
John Rawls in ‘A Theory of Justice’ (1971) asks the question “what rules would mankind contract to obey if they were to establish a social order in conditions where none of them could take advantage of their fellows?” This pre-condition would be at the heart of a fair and just system in our workplaces.
People want to do more than what they sign up for in their employment contract, because work satisfies and meets a deep human need for meaning and purpose in their life. People want to feel they’re making a difference; they want to feel that they are in service and contributing to something greater than themselves. Whether it’s the purpose of the organisation or the purpose of their unit or meeting some need of their customers … people want to feel passionate, they want to feel that their life is meaningful and that what they’re doing is part of serving a greater purpose or service to others. If you are a leader, it is important to remember this and to deal fairly with all the people employed by you.
Be reliable and build your integrity
If you are a manager or leader in your workplace, accountability is even more important, and being reliable to do what you say you will do is the bedrock for building integrity. Commit to staying accountable and be prepared to acknowledge your mistakes if they happen. No-one is perfect and it’s important to acknowledge that both for yourself and others. This will relieve pressures for yourself and others going forward, enabling a more humane environment to be created. Commit to moving forward in a way that puts lessons learned into action and a positive attitude on the horizon.
Make a commitment to better your behaviour and remember that the employees that you lead are going to follow your actions more than anything you say. If you want proper behaviours and attitudes at the kick start of the New Year, then start practicing what you preach. Whether it’s coming into work on time, maintaining health and safety codes in the break room, or following standard operating procedures, no employee handbook is going to speak louder than your own actions. Become empowered by employees’ close watch and act in a way that you want emulated.
Extend trust to build trust
As noted American writer and journalist Ernest Hemingway famously said, “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” It is important to give people the benefit of your trust first, to extend trust as a starting point and benchmark of any relationship, and if your trust is not met, then you know that there are more things you need to know about this person. These may be matters relating to their competence and capability, or they may be matters of their character. But once you’ve employed someone for a role, don’t wait for them to prove that they can be trusted before you trust.
This is a crucial key for all leaders who are trusted – they trust employees first, and this trust is reciprocated. The reverse is often true – if you don’t trust, you won’t be trusted.
When trust exists between employees and management and this trust is conveyed to your customers and your suppliers, your business will thrive. Trust creates a virtuous circle that draws in commitment, loyalty and support.
Use your power to benefit others
Leaders need to recognise the power they have and to use it to create a positive impact in the lives of their employees. (Do not use your power to benefit only yourself, or you will create opponents to your leadership.) Leaders are happy to make that impact because they’re confident enough to believe that their views, perceptions, attitudes, style or contribution are of value beyond themselves. Self esteem is necessary and a self image that they are comfortable to demonstrate and make known to the wider context of the whole organisation. New managers and leaders can address this resolution by asking the following:
- How will you make your staff’s life better because you are now their leader?
- How you are going to make a better environment or circumstance for those around you because you now have greater power?
- What power will you delegate and to whom?
- What must you now stop doing and delegate to your managers and colleagues?
- What will you pass on to help them, grow them, and improve their chance of promotion?
Such resolutions will be good not just for this year, but many years going forward!
15 January 2016