Posted by: Christine Maassen, Senior Vice President – Human Resources, SilverBirch Hotels & Resorts
As of March 2013, when entering the word “leadership” in the Amazon search engine one ends up with 109,984 results! And this is just one site. I speculate that a review of those results would lead to establishing a list of just about as many definitions of leadership. It is fair to say that many of us are not only fascinated by the concept but feel compelled to write about it. Having dedicated “serious” time studying and thinking about the topic, I believe that this intensive interest (or is it a fascination?) is due in part to the fact that most of our organizations are in desperate need of a new definition of leadership. Another way of putting it: “what got us here, won’t keep us here”.
The leadership models that enabled the success of many organizations over the last five decades or so are no longer cutting it. Even worse, it makes people sick! The recent worrisome increase in absenteeism due to mental illness signals that something is no longer functioning in the workplace. Did you ever think that we would see the day where workers would need to have a legal recourse to protect themselves against toxic workplaces? There are now multiple provinces in Canada that have such measures in place through their Workers Compensation scheme’s provisions.
If we accept that leaders impact cultures, which in turn frame how we feel at work, I submit, that rethinking our leadership in today’s organization is urgent. Some organizations have started and are proving to be making headway.
So what are the key ingredients of this revamped leadership recipe? I will not draft a top ten list but will instead suggest we focus on one element: The stepping-stone of today’s leadership is self-awareness. This may seem like a paradox, because it is generally accepted that leadership is about leading and enabling others. However, there is more and more literature and research demonstrating that until we understand ourselves, the likelihood of being an effective leader is very slim. Sounds like gibberish? Let me use a quote from Maya Angelou to explain my view in different words: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
The way we behave towards the individuals we have the privilege of leading is a key driver behind bringing the best –or worst – out in people.
Do you know how you make people feel?
What Leader has made you feel valued and how? Do you have an example of great leadership?
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