On this first day of Spring 2023, it got me thinking about how leaders can truly thrive even in the face of uncertainty. Of course, not all leaders are struggling or just getting by. Research suggests that over half of leaders are leading well, despite the myriad of challenges they face on a daily basis. So, what makes it possible for them to thrive?
It’s not what leaders do, but rather how they show up that makes a difference. Much of that is shaped by their mindsets – the lens through which they see the world.
Leaders that THRIVE have a mindset that enables them to be:
They tailor their leadership to the contexts in which they and their teams find themselves. They understand that some problems have clear fixes and benefit from a “tell-and-control” leadership approach. However, complex challenges benefit from a more collaborative and inclusive “ask-and-invite” leadership style.
When did you last flex your leadership to meet the needs of a specific situation? How might you be mindful of flexing your approach when needed?
With humble curiosity they seek to understand the hopes and strengths of others. They understand that people don’t function like machines but are living systems that need meaningful work and connections in order to consistently do their best work.
Do you know what makes work meaningful for your team? When might you be able to ask if or how this is changing for them?
They embrace instability, disruption and unpredictability for the possibilities that they bring. They understand that most leaders struggle to accurately forecast too far into the future, so instead of weighing their teams down with unrealistic plan they help their people focus on surfacing real-time possibilities and adjusting their efforts as needed.
How have you helped your team to embrace disruption and uncertainty recently? What might you do to help them thrive in disruption and uncertainty?
They are effective allies and invite different perspectives, experiences, and ideas into conversations. They understand that no one “expert” has all the answers – even if you are the leaders – and instead hold up, honor and value the wisdom of the different perspectives and voices around them.
How often do you invite others with different perspectives and experiences to share their ideas with your team? How might you be a better ally for marginalized voices in your team?
They deliver value by creating psychologically safe spaces for learning and positive outcomes to unfold. They understand that the payoffs of most achievements are short-lived, and that long-term growth depends on people’s courage and confidence to keep experimenting and learning rather than being blamed and shamed for mistakes.
How do you share your failures and learning experiences – even the embarrassing ones – with your team? What can you do to make it feel safer for them to share their setbacks and mistake with each other more openly?
They prioritize coaching conversations with their people to invite ownership and foster accountability. They understand that healthy and effective working relationships are not built on coercion and compliance, and instead take responsibility for finding ways to bring out the best in their people to supercharge wellbeing, performance and commitment.
How regularly do you have coaching conversations with your team? How might you integrate more coaching questions into your catch ups?
Leaders who have a THRIVE mindset are more likely to report higher levels of organizational commitment, engagement, and individual and group performance. Not only that, but these leaders and their teams are more likely to report higher levels of inclusivity, psychological safety, and wellbeing.
It is not that their THRIVE mindset ensures everything goes perfectly. After all, these leaders work in the real world with all its unpredictability, uncertainty, and messiness. Their THRIVE mindset enables them to see the inevitable struggles every leader faces as an invitation to learning and growing rather than a sign that they are not up to their roles. They understand that great leadership involves both thriving and struggle, and they have the confidence and courage to embrace both.
~ Adapted from The Leader Lab