Posts Tagged human resources

Adaptive Leaders: Change Whisperers

I know with the title I’m right on the edge of taking the Horse Whisperer metaphor one more step beyond its original intent…maybe. But there is no stopping me now. The show Dog Whisperer really reiterated the idea of understanding an animal’s behavior at a deeper level. Cesar Millan has a thorough understanding of the fundamentals of dog behavior. How dogs relate to other dogs and to human interactions. The behavior we see always has some deeper cause and affect and Cesar can make sense of it because he understands normative behaviors. In fact, I love how Cesar does his work as much with the dog owners as the dogs themselves. It’s a little bit of both and not just the dog or just the owner.

I see adaptive leaders as Change Whisperers. They understand change fundamentally and know how it impacts people. To coach and lead people effectively in today’s global environment you need to fundamentally understand change and you need to have a fundamental understanding of human behavior.

There are three core types of change and adaptive leaders must understand these.

    • Continuous change – This is predictive change that creates a “trend line” path for a leader to make proactive moves in a market place or make continuous improvement processes more standard. It is much like knowing that when your tires hit 45,000 miles you should be planning for new tires. It is something you can put in the calendar and follow the reminders.
    • Planned Change – Organized change efforts are varied in their nature based on the organization and situational issues.  Proactive change management is a skill area for adaptive leaders. Knowing how systems or businesses never stay isolated from external factors or closed for vary long; Informs the need for constant attention to what proactive changes do I need to make now to keep individuals and systems in top shape. This is a vital awareness for any leader of any system.
    • Discontinuous change – This is “Tsunami Change”.  You wake up in the morning and things are soon drastically different. This change is unpredictable. Fundamentally we can practice our response to disasters, but there is no definitive way to predict when drastic life and business circumstances will come your way. The ability to practice scenarios is at the heart of the success of adaptive leaders. Compressing the time that it takes to adjust or be in action is key but not necessarily the main creation of leadership value. Leaders who know when to act and when to be patient are invaluable to organizations involved in environments of frequent changes.

I could add one more to make it four in total. The last type of change is uninformed change. Change just for change sake…I’ve seen it happen when leaders are bored and the status quo is not exciting. They have to meddle with success. Sounds stupid and it is. But hey, go watch a few Dog Whisperer shows and you’ll wonder who’s the smart one…the master or the dog? The leader or the follower? It’s not just about being good at changing. You need to understand when to change and how to navigate and guide those most impacted through the change landscape. Adaptive leaders know this and practice it and practice it over and over. It’s called mastery.

Next time we will talk about how we as humans interpret change.


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Adaptive Leadership: Risk, Relevance, and Relationship

I want to challenge Adaptive Leaders to start with OUTCOMES and NOT RISK. Risk doesn’t have much to do with breakthrough decision making. When a decision needs to be made, making an assessment of risk is often the most prudent approach. It also greatly limits learning and can eliminate the many possibilities of success that otherwise are never considered. You do nothing differently and you get the same result…and yes…that is the definition of leadership insanity.

Risk stops leaders from making or keeping a commitment. We may stop short of something extraordinary for us that would seem…just to risky. Adaptive leadership is not just seeking relevance with risk or reward. It is about a relationship that treats each decision, individual, or team in a different way. Risk may never  be a relevant part of your decision making as a leader after you read this post.

Adaptive leaders know about commitment and understand what exactly they are committed to—right now in this moment—and over time. It is the balance of risk, the relevance to your values, and the relationship with a leader’s sense of commitment that creates breakthroughs. It is important to know, as a leader, that each person, situation, and team is unique to the breakthrough they seek. It is difficult to breakthrough without a relationship and relevance to values. 

What would it look like to be a goal maker instead of a risk taker? Adaptive Leadership certainly includes prudent decision making to minimize risk and maximize reward. This conversation is intentionally focused on getting crystal clear on how leaders can think differently about risk adversity and re-frame their entire view of risk. 

The bottom line on being an Adaptive Leader is not about going about “willy nilly” as a leader. It is the ability to ask yourself (and others) clarifying questions at strategic moments. The following types of questions are examples of clarifying questions.

  • What is the outcome I’m seeking? (This may seem to simple, but really powerful!)
  • What is most important and/or most essential at this very time in my life or this business chapter?
  • How can I get the clarity needed to make powerful decisions relevant to my values and goals ?

Adaptive leaders seek relevance rather than risk. Whatever you do to build a strong sense of clarity is critical. Being clear about the decisions you must make, want to make, or could make. Clarity becomes “job one” and a highly valued activity.  This takes a strong relationship with great coaches, mentors, and the embodiment of your personal values. Effective leaders stay in relationship with and connected to their values…all the time.

The most trying and difficult decisions can become amazingly clear to a value driven leader. This relevance to our values sets us back squarely on center for making sound grounded decisions. These important decisions are value based and goal driven. NOT driven by fear or unexamined goals. Clarity becomes the basis you can anchor to when making seemingly small or even life changing decisions.  Especially when making decisions that you have no experiential basis from which to ground your assessments. Thinking strategically with others becomes important if you are going to be able to understand the whole system.

Risk is not relevant in areas where we become extraordinary and work for creation of our future in new ways. The concept of risk is frequently made from an assessment based on what we stand to lose. It seems reasonable to say risky decisions have potential to cost you or create loss.

  • Should I or shouldn’t I?
  • What’s a person to do?
  • How could I ever give up that paycheck?
  • If I “fire” that customer where will the business come from? 

Value based decisions have the potential to create more abundance. You see beyond the paycheck and how spending more time with customers aligned with your values and goals will grow business results, not reduce them.


Adaptive leaders simultaneously see the current trajectory of results (and/or output) matched against the desired results (output). Then they declare a destination and make adjustments with courage and conviction. They have faith and believe in the outcome. If they don’t, who will follow and why would you follow them? Pretty simple really when we look at it that way.

Life is strategic. Almost all decisions we make are connected to the flow of our existence and purpose. You can make your goal to minimize risk…OR…live from a framework of commitment and values. The “knowing” of the values and purpose that define those decisions needing to be made becomes essential. There are few risky “life threatening” decisions but all decisions can threaten the life you want to live and work you want to accomplish. Living towards your desired outcomes is exactly related to the old metaphor of “Playing To Win” and NOT “Playing to Lose”.

Next time…Go with the FLOW of Change.

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Adaptive Leadership: Leading and parenting allows failure

To be a successful parent you have to be an adaptive leader. Teaching and training up leaders requires a level of patience, wisdom, and humility that many successful leaders find challenging. Its one thing to lead, make decisions, and take responsibility. It is an entirely different thing to coach and develop leaders on the ideals and principles that you use to make your decisions. This isn’t a “right” or “wrong” paradigm. It is just another way of being.  Adaptive Leadership requires a whole different level of vulnerability and openness to mentor and guide a young child as a parent or develop an employee as manager. It involves a choice..a choice to be a coach and teacher and actively participate in the development of those around you.

This level of vulnerability is not so much limited by ego, but really limited by a perspective. These perspectives usually show up when you are working with parents and leaders to get more involved. Specifically, to be involved emotionally and spiritually with another human being in an intimate relationship regarding their development. It could be a number of reasons, but I’ve found a couple of deep seeded perspectives that seem most prevalent.

  1. Failure is not equated with leading. Leading is associated with succeeding! The idea is seeded that leading has no room for failure…in anything. And especially not a big old fat stinker of a failure that involves a financial loss, misjudgment of character, and failure to live up to expectations (of themselves and others).
  2. Parents and leaders find difficulty in being vulnerable and reliving their own mistakes. Its not something you share with a child let alone a direct report…right? Wrong! It takes intuition to know how vulnerable you need to be and know when it is appropriate to engage with others in learning from your experiences. In some strange transference we become intolerant of failure in others because we really can’t stand it in our own self.

Truth is…all leaders and parents fail at some point in their careers and parenting efforts. Click here for the popular chronicle of failure and success in a famous leader. My most powerful moments as a parent have dramatic similarities with my defining moments as a successful leader and people manager. It involves my ability and/or willingness to admit my own shortcomings and mistakes during those teachable moments. Equally important are the times I allowed my children and direct reports to make their own mistakes…I bit my tongue and kept my trap shut.

Fundamentally, leadership skills are not different from those skills required to parent. Your children are in constant transition and growth, both physically and mentally. This environment of transition demands that you are constantly adapting as a leader/parent. You don’t interact with your eight year old like you did when they were a two year old. When you have several employees and/or offspring at different stages you have to be able to adapt to each personality and situation and do it seamlessly.

You are being watched  and observed. How you deal with failure is as important as how you deal with success. No doubt parents, through experience, can save their children from many stupid mistakes. However, in saving the child from experiencing the struggle of failing you may cripple their ability to learn and grow. In the same way, as a leader you see that a key lesson learned for one individual may be the foundation used to build a career or life upon.

  1. Why not create opportunities for your new leaders to make decisions and learn critical skills and lessons?
  2. Do you let them make that decision could cost them their career?
  3. Are you focused on perfection or excellence?

As I have written in earlier posts, the one constant is your core values. That is why being consistent and adaptive as a leadership go hand in hand. Look at these next development points for leaders and see the direct parallels to successful parenting of children.

  1. Set a good foundation early in the process of “on boarding” new employees or new people leaders,
  2. reinforce the foundation and standards by rewards and encouragement,
  3. and prepare new leaders by allowing them to benefit by learning from the results of their own decisions.

Adaptive work involves intuition and tapping into that as a you make decisions. Intuition is very spiritual and unexplainable.

Here are some parting thoughts…

  • Being vulnerable and open sets the best example.
  • Faith in your ability to lead and adapt is a huge contribution to develop leaders with the proper perspective.
  • Value your intuition as a strong guide to build intuitive leaders.
  • Intuition is the most unexplained leadership tool.
  • Intuition scares many corporate systems because it has no roots in controlled systematic approaches.

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Are you a Sustainable Leader?

Are you going through people in your business like a parent goes through napkins wiping up a two year old with an ice cream cone on a hot day at the St. Louis Zoo? It’s usually the best that leave first, especially in today’s economic climate. Wondering where all the employee candidates for your business or department are going to come from in the foreseeable future? That is another problem that plagues unsustainable leadership. Their business doesn’t attract candidates to them. Sustainable leaders have a line up and list of people just waiting in the wings.

Sustainability is so diversely defined that we tend to think about just the environment and natural resources.  We should be thinking about sustainable human resources and capital as leaders and owners of a business. You can’t begin to have a “sustainable” business without creating a leadership environment that encourages and nourishes people in their development. Leaders that sustain their people attract others to work for them. It often is the “mystery” thing that people are seduced by, but just can’t describe. Its really simple and essentially costs your business nothing.

There is an epidemic in organizations of treating adults like children. Leaders have become increasingly afraid of letting people take risks and make mistakes. In addition to lack of risk taking there is an unwillingness to have meaningful conversations with others that really demonstrate your sincerity and caring as a leader. This unsustainable leadership shows up in putting off tough conversations or talking behind peoples back to others. It allows the unsustainable  disease of entitlement to poison a workforce. People begin to think they are owed something and make it okay not to deliver on numbers or take off from work early.

AND equally as bad unsustainable leaders justify everything as…I could have but…I wanted to but…IF ONLY…  When a SUSTAINABLE LEADER steps up you feel it, you sense it, and you live for it. We are longing for the support and challenge of a mature adult who has taken charge of their own future. Not a fiercely  independent leader, but a leader fiercely dependent on tapping into the collective human spirit and energy of those individuals around them. They build a narrative that is compelling and is embodied in the character of each and every person.

You see—sustainable leaders BUILD SUSTAINABLE leaders. I think God knew that the human spirit was the one thing that truly is sustainable and limitless. It is the energy that can recreate itself exponentially when it is unleashed by your leadership. Do it….I dare you today to be more than you ever dreamed possible as a leader. To be more human and authentic then ever before.

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Coaching to Core Ideals – Networks of Power

This is the final post in this series Coaching to Core Ideals. There are several topics in the running and in the making! Stay tuned!

The IDEAL LEADER is 1) Visionary, 2) Authentic, 3) Disciplined, 4) Accessible, and 5) a Strategic Learner. See the Coaching to Core Ideals post to get a quick overview and context for the series.


  1. Thinking their business “ahead” of the game and also their own skills and awareness
  2. Networks within the industry and the company to gain important perspectives and knowledge to make decisions

My desire is to make a real contribution to the narrative on how leaders can truly impact the lives of those around them and live an intentional life…an integrated life. This post completes this series on “Coaching to Core Ideals”.  I thank all of you who have stayed with me on my sporadic writing journey on this subject. The funny part about writing this post is that I have made a significant breakthrough for myself. I have been writing poetry and capturing ideas privately for years and have many more things that I want to explore…stay tuned there is more to come!

Leaders in many ways ARE their network. If that is the case then we need to define or distinguish just what a network is and it is often used as a verb. What we now refer to as networking has much to do with the connections and linkages within the domain of computers and Internet exchanges. Have you experienced trying to get your work done when the “network is down”?  Without the proper connections you are powerless and inefficient at best. You rely on your network more than you realize. It’s value becomes dramatically real when it is gone or weak at a time you need it the most in your career and personal life.

Powerful or power-filled networks expand your capacity to take care of personal and business concerns into the future. When we don’t network to create relationships we lack the ability to even find a good plumber or reliable mechanic. Individuals often make very poor decisions about customer acquisition or important career decisions because they lack a solid network of relationship. Success or lack of it in work and life can be a reflection of our ability to network. Quantity is not the answer. The quality of your network has a direct impact on the quality of your life and work!

To make connections that help you learn strategically requires some tacit personal skills in communication and a focused awareness. It doesn’t mean you need to be a polished speaker or social butterfly. It just means you need to be able to connect with people and information in a way that it makes sense to what’s most important to you personally and professionally. Joining the right association, clubs, or attending relevant industry/social events can all be vehicles for accomplishing the construction of a network. There are formal clubs and sponsored networking associations that help people build relationships and get connected. You need to enter those with a clear idea of the “forsake of why” you are building your network. Clarity of purpose and what you value in relationships is more important than eloquent speech.

Networking requires a results orientation…a clear focus on results wanted and objectives for desired outcomes. Social networking has been made possible by using the Internet to connect easily to gain knowledge and perspective from a broader community…very quickly. LinkedIn and Facebook are just two examples… and all of these venues can now be linked together using applications. Now you can network in a very efficient manner and yet this still doesn’t make the “power” point. It makes the connection, but not the construction of how you gain power. Power isn’t money. Its your increased capacity to act upon what you want in your work and/or personal life.

Learning happens when we are in relationship with people and now directly with information. A direct relationship with information is a fairly new phenomenon that has been enhanced with the Internet and access to information. There is also the increased access to lots of misinformation as well. The constructs of power for taking action requires that you must be of help to others in your network. Your network of help can be a valuable asset for you to be able to take care of all the concerns that you have in work and life. Really the key to strategic learning is engaging with others to “be of help” to them. Learning requires a relationship (something or someone).

Strategic learners are more empowered to make the best or most prudent decision.  No one can make the “perfect” call every time and yet decision making is what leaders are paid to do well. Even more important is helping others to make good decisions. Coaching leaders around decision making is foremost about awareness and perspective. You must help a leader explore their own perspective and encourage them to come up with the “real questions” that are being asked. We often are looking for answers when we really should first be looking for the right question. Find the right question and the answer will show up.

Internal or external networking is fundamentally the same. So many individuals struggle to gain good networks within their company. The reasons can be many, but most of the failure resides in the assessment of the risk in doing it, commitment, and practical access to people within the system. It’s hard to network if leaders or people don’t hang out with their organization. Go back to the 4th core value of being Accessible and you can now see how important it is that people within an organization have access to their leaders and each other. You can gain tremendous power in helping your direct reports to maneuver through this landscape.

I decided several years ago to just be open and accessible to others that “show up”. If someone needed help, I worked to help them. It didn’t mean I had to be the person they depended on…I connected them. If you can be a “place” where people can connect to get help you will get help. Try it out and let me know…your network will grow.

Well, this wraps up the posts for Coaching to Core Ideals. I am excited about the next adventures in writing and publishing. As I go forward I have some passions around sales leadership, leading transitions and transformation (especially those associated within business/agriculture), sharing poems, and many other “thought leadership” topics. Email me and make a request for any specific topic that you would like me to engage in as well. Don’t settle go for the IDEAL.

Core Ideals

In my center I live,

From my heart I give,

With my voice I build,

Relationship and meaning,

Speaking into others what could be,

Their very essence an ideal.

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Coaching to Core Ideals – Game Changer: Think Before You Lead

This is another post in the series Coaching to Core Ideals.

The IDEAL LEADER is 1) Visionary, 2) Authentic, 3) Disciplined, 4) Accessible, and 5) a Strategic Learner. See the Coaching to Core Ideals post to get a quick overview and context for the series. We are going to break each sub-topic down over the next few weeks.


  1. Thinking their business “ahead” of the game and also their own skills and awareness
  2. Networks within the industry and the company to gain important perspectives and knowledge to make decisions

Indeed some leaders start out early in their career open and excited to learn and then over time they become stale and set in their ways. Being a game changer is not easy for even the very best leaders. It can be a very challenging thing in business environments to get people to be proactive in skill development. You can make requests as a leader and if those you depend upon to implement don’t understand the “why”… it is important they will resist changing. 

My first leadership coach instilled in me the value of being aware of my thoughts and being a game changer. He would constantly challenge my perspectives and story about what was important and were my interpretations of what was going on around me correct. Out of this learning I began to be less “certain” about my own “certainty”. In other words, I hold onto to my truth and assertions with a softer grip…and even more so as I age, mature, and grow as an adult learner.

Thinking ahead is using the past wisdom to create a future with the new knowledge and understanding acquired in the present moment. As you may have ascertained by now my posts are not about grabbing ideas from popular books or catchy themes, but rather putting meat on the bone of coaching and being coached as a leader. Your skills, your growth, and your awareness of your perspective have a direct impact on the success of business results. Learner and Leader are synonymous.

A leader brings perspective that helps make the vision become reality through business results.  Business success today has everything to do with what took place much earlier in the lifecycle of planning and working. My experience in a hyper growth sales environment taught me the critical value of sound strategy…backed by a passionate vision for the future. When things are moving quickly you need a compass guide. I learned very quickly that while the team I was responsible for focused on implementing against our current plan; it was my job to keep the agreed upon business objectives and progress in perspective of the longer view. That’s what a leader must do consistently.

Thinking “the business” ahead is about leading change AND casting a vision that not only stretches those you are leading, but you as well.  You must coach leaders to be out in front of their constituents “cutting brush” for the next path. Scouting “new ground” so-to-speak is where many organizations fail to transition their leaders and they remain stuck in a reactive mode. Reactive mode is really about being stuck as a learner or not being a learning organization. How an organization approaches  learning and training indicates the strength and potency of their vision.

In order to think the business ahead you must value the time and space to actually ponder, plan, assess, and learn. It goes against our very nature to stop and think things through rather than just jumping in the pool only to find out later we forgot to fill it with water first. Abraham Lincoln said, “If I had 8 hours to cut down a tree I would spend 6 hours sharpening my saw”. Everyone gets the logic in this, BUT it is easier to espouse than to actually put into action. Especially when you are seeing the future that others just can’t or don’t want to admit to be true. We bank on wishes instead of intentions for our future…and therein lies the dilemma of trust.

Trust in leaving the immediate and critical objectives of the present moment in the hands of well skilled “others”… IS the definition of delegation.  Yet if I didn’t take the time to build the skills needed I feel challenged to delegate. “You are going to have to serve somebody”, as Bob Dylan’s lyrics proclaim. Either you react or pro-act.  Changing ahead of time requires a strong sense of trust in your own ability to make good grounded decisions and speculate based on what you learn. Your ability to learn and think ahead of the game is a competitive advantage and a cultural tenet for great businesses and organizations. Once you get this rolling it is leadership euphoria.

Knowing when the next business chapter and transition is going to be arriving and preparing for it requires a learner’s mind. I coach leader’s to grow the skills they need tomorrow right now today. Because tomorrow never comes, when it arrives it IS today. So much of what we think is important just isn’t so. It’s not…wake up and be honest with yourself. You have no right as a leader to squander the gifts and talents you’ve been entrusted with let alone the people (and their families) that depend on you.

In summary, your ability to think the business and your skills ahead is in direct relationship with you understanding what you are committed to being for your organization. I can’t tell you how many organizations know that training and development is key to the future success of their people and organization’s results. Even when budget is not the issue, taking the “6 hours” needed to sharpen the saw is devalued. Leaders will feign dedication and let their organization off the hook. It is never just about money. It is about building into yourself and others the necessary skills need to make your future happen the way you want it to. Think about the story of Noah in the old testament. No better metaphor for listening to the future and taking care of it before it arrived.

I think this poem I’ve written some years back may speak to the essence of this core value for leaders.

Thoughts on Growth

By Mark Uhlenberg

 Growth…it hurts to grow.  Growing pains…they say.

The pain of growth comes with so much stress and strain.  We resist.

Even so, like the strongest of steel your own metal is tempered.

The very metal of your own soul and being,

The emergent you is refined and the unnecessary left behind.

Now here you come! Into the core of your life,

Cutting cleaner, sharper, and more decisively through all the chaos of transformation.

You become a transformer and not a resistor…a true “being”,

Able to change, maneuver, and create peace through the myriad of choices.

You are leaving a good, strong, and well-marked path.

Your journey through life now illuminated,

And all that seek you can find you at the “cutting edge” of your life breaking into a clearing.

You are a clearing created and now prepared for all those who follow.

A voice of clarity, expectation, and generosity of spirit that brings wholeness,

An open clearing of choice… a heart born voice…

Good ground for those that are wanting and willing.

Solid ground and space for slumbering and restless souls who need a gift.

It is in this clearing where the pain of growth gives way to anticipation!

No longer asleep. No longer restless.

Now awake, alive, transforming, and transformed!

Growth is you. Embraced and created, as you will.

 © The Heartwood Group, LLC 2011

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Coaching to Core Ideals – Ideal Loser or Leader

This is another post in the series Coaching to Core Ideals.

The IDEAL LEADER is 1) Visionary, 2) Authentic, 3) Disciplined, 4) Accessible, and 5) a Strategic Learner. See the Coaching to Core Ideals post to get a quick overview and context for the series. We are going to break each sub-topic down over the next few weeks.


  1. Physically available to the right people at the right time
  2. Adept at creating forums that important knowledge, information, and direction setting goals can be shared and understood.
  3. Emotionally, mentally and intellectually available

If you strive to be an Ideal Leader then you must be mentally and intellectually available to people when you are physically with them. When you are investing your time as a leader to be with someone…BE WITH THEM! Sounds crazy simple, but some people leaders are checking the box with their people time. Ideal leaders should not only value, but cherish purposeful time spent with a constituent or employee.

Have you ever lost someone’s attention when their smart phone beeped, buzzed, or vibrated? To all the managers that use a Blackberry or iPhone while in a conversation or meeting with your team or an individual…you are an ideal loser and not a leader. I am witnessing this disturbing trend firsthand. It is growing exponentially with the advent of smart phones and technology. A manager or ideal leader “wannabe” can be with someone physically, but spiritually and mentally be checked out.

I don’t think leaders aspire to fail their people. BUT when you grab your “Crackberry” when you are with your team in a meeting or individually you do not show up as an Ideal Leader. You actually show up more like out-of-touch, self-important, pitiful folks that don’t understand that the people you lead want your full attention. Don’t squander your greatest opportunity. It is invaluable for a leader to gain real clarity and understanding for what is most important to their people and to also communicate what you value to them as a leader. You do this by being connected with them emotionally and intellectually and being fully attentive and present.

Unless you have a life or death phone call; turn it off and put it away…and focus on being accessible. Outside of truly urgent things your emails can wait. Emails or texts don’t need to be returned or answered within minutes or even seconds. Why would you let a device train you to serve it rather than it serving you? If all your issues are urgent, then you have entirely other dire problems that need handling before you can set down with another person or your team and do some real work.

Some of the greatest perceived risks (by leaders) show up when being vulnerable in sharing–not only what they are thinking, but what they are feeling. To share or show emotions at times can be powerful and also uncomfortable. Being “in control” is important for many of us as leaders. And it really is important. There are times that you need to check in with your feelings and emotions and make conscious choices about whether it is appropriate for the moment to share them. It has everything to do with emotional awareness.

Feelings are a great source of information for leaders and they often get discounted in value to leaders. This is a mistake. I am coaching leaders to distinguish the difference between acting out of or upon their feelings and being aware of them as strong indicators of energy and commitment. When we tune into our emotions and feelings we access some very surprising opportunities to make powerful choices.

Simply acknowledging your emotions can be the beginning of checking in with your commitments. When you put your smart phone away and then experience anxious feelings that you might be missing something…ask yourself, “What is my anxiousness really connected to?” Is it about being left out or not being in control? Is it a behavior that you have just fallen into? Because, just like Pavlov’s dog experiment you have acquired a conditioned response!

The vulnerable leader is a powerful leader that is open and trusts their self as an emotional being. This power comes from understanding their own context and relationship to their feelings and intellect. A more powerful way of being with your feelings is to use them as a great source of information. Feelings “inform” a leader about what’s going on with them within the domain of the situation they are experiencing. Ideal leaders see that the situation is really taking place within them. And their own filters or feelings are a big source how they interpret that experience and the accompanying emotions.

An Ideal Leader strives to consistently own their interpretation. When you can name it and choose your response you have become emotionally intelligent. An emotionally intelligent leader seeks clarity and understanding of the origins of their own feelings. There is a narrative within the domain of leaders and managers that simply goes something like this… “There is no room for feelings in when it comes to leading a business or managing people”.

Intuitively leaders have varying degrees of awareness for (or a sense for) what they are feeling. They can’t differentiate themselves or the issues from what is really going on within the business and its people. They often can shut down their awareness of “feeling” to protect themselves from being human. This makes some very important data inaccessible or rarely acknowledged for the value it can bring to the power a leader needs to make decisions.

When a leader either doesn’t acknowledge their feelings as real or they act out of them in an automatic response they are not a differentiated human being. It often takes some very real life challenges to break some leaders down. The biggest and toughest woman or man that leads a Fortune 50 can be reduced to tears of joy or sorrow. It just depends on how present they allow themselves to be with what is happening.

Even more challenging at times is to share what you are sensing. Leaders often know they are walking the thinking and intuition tight rope when decisions get made. Even the most important decisions facing a company or individual are often based more on “feeling” then the head. In many ways leaders can’t take risks in being vulnerable by sharing what they are “feeling” or sensing. So, it becomes a challenge to acknowledge that you can’t think your way out of a problem. When you allow others access to your feelings and sense then they can contribute to you…if you’ve put your smart phone away and listened.

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