Face the Challenges of Leadership by Aligning Values & Action

Jun 17, 2020

What is leadership? How do we know it when we see it? It’s different for everyone, but as we know well from The Leadership Challenge®, it has three unmistakable criteria: leadership starts with the self, leadership is everyone’s business, and leadership is a learned set of skills.
So, as we learn and develop our leadership skills and help others do the same, we become more effective in building a loyal and energized followership. Yet one of the biggest challenges in building followership today is finding effective ways to connect the generations—from Millennials to Gen Z-ers, Boomers to Gen X-ers, and everything in between and beyond. The way 25-year-olds fresh out of college look at the world often differs from 55-year-old Boomers in the mature phases of their careers—and that’s the task-at-hand! To build coalitions and create high-performing teams, leaders must pull people together to share the vision of the organization.
Bringing people together by Inspiring a Shared Vision also crosses over into company acquisitions and mergers. The dynamics are similar to generational communication. It’s all about understanding the other person, the other organization, the other culture. Many groups will clash during this process, but once they are able to find some common ground, they will see how the collective vision connects with what’s meaningful to them personally and get excited about the possibilities.
I know that improvisation can play an important part in this process of assimilating teams or merged organizations. One of the foundations of improv is the phrase, “Yes! And.”  It shifts the mind from negative to positive.
For example, I have groups roleplay a way of approaching meetings and discussions. By shifting from a “no, but” mentality to “yes, and” approach, we get much more engagement and collaboration. We get people building from others’ ideas instead of shutting them down. When this happens, we see an immediate shift in body language and mindset, and the conversations begin to open up.
Aligning Personal Values to the Three “I’s” of Leadership
In addition to building trust-based relationships with engaged followers who are committed to shared goals and roles, there are three things leaders can do to bring about a better outcome, no matter what task or project you are working on. Using what I call The Three “I’s” of Leadership, consider the following:

  1. Inspiration. Look deep inside and find what inspires you. If you’re thinking about taking a job, going to college, starting a business, or buying a house, ask yourself about what this looks like in its ideal form.
  2. Ignite. Once you get the vision painted, what steps will you take to start putting a plan in place?
  3. Impact. Commit to taking action on your plan. This is the most important step because no change will occur without action.
When we take time to align these three steps with our values and with what we want and don’t want, I believe we will find more success than ever before.
Adding to those steps for change are, of course, The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®, which are essential to becoming an exemplary leader:
  • Walk your talk—Model the Way.
  • Inspire a Shared Vision—Know what your vision is, the visions of others, and find the intersection points that you share.
  • Challenge Processes—Question the ways you’ve always done things and be brave to change.
  • Enable Others to Act—See the strengths and passions of others and give them the tools to grow.
  • Encourage the Heart—Be genuine, and make sure to acknowledge and encourage what you see in people.

To become more effective in our leadership roles, we must take time to work on these key action steps—with a focus on one-per-week to cycle through them rather than tackling all of them at once. Whatever approach you decide to take, I encourage you to make sure you are doing the work to become a great leader because leadership is a learned skill, and practice is the way to hone any skill.

Roxanne Kaufman Elliott is a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge and the president and CEO of ProLaureate Ltd., which brings over 30 years of national and international corporate experience to a wide range of clients—from privately-held businesses to large corporations that specialize in manufacturing, healthcare, insurance, accounting, financial services, real estate, consumer products, and construction. Roxanne can be reached at [email protected]. She offers additional insight into how to face the challenges of leadership in her “Change Your Mindset” podcast interview, which you can listen to by clicking here

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