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EXECUTIVE TEAM LEADERSHIP EFFECTIVENESS

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The New Face of Leadership
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If the connected team is a form yielding advantage, then one of the leader's first accountabilities is to create this connected team and the environment fostering it. This leads to a form of emotional custodianship, and to the need for qualities like courage, connectedness, empathy, direct and tactful expressiveness, instinct and even compassion. These right-brain aptitudes join with equal authority those already contributing from the left, for it is the coexistence of reason with emotion the leader must seek, not the overthrow of one by the other.

The new leader learns how to augment his already proficient skills in financial statements with an understanding of social capital and internal currency. S/he must realize that big gains will come not from the small incremental improvements of what he has already been working on, but the leap into the unknown of what he has not been considering at all. While emotional content is alluded to in our business schools, it is not effectively addressed. Yet a real understanding of emotion, the kind generated only from within, is crucial to outcome. Untrained, the leader often runs the cold steel of the analytic approach like a flatiron over issues of trust, fear, dignity and meaning, and the novice—you and I—is sent out into the business world inadequately prepared for the emotional animation awaiting.

Fast-track leaders have a particularly difficult time letting go of the "right" choice of strategy, systems, structure, and quantitative analysis that they presume early on will be their basis for success. Often these leaders feel that success stems from anticipating the "winning" side, rather than converting to closure the them vs. us wars they see all around them. This obsession with left-brained technique may be the smoke screen covering the perceived difficulty of understanding one's own emotions as the essential prerequisite to understanding others.

But this journey into ourselves need not be difficult and torturous if it is traveled with guided closure at every step, weaving practical left-brained vision and strategy into current business dilemmas. This way, the participant continuously reinforces the connection between emotion and the bottom line in his own sphere of influence. S/he finds himself able to solve the most difficult human and interaction dilemmas, thus converting emotion to margin. Expanded opportunities for implementation become more visible and a new, human center is established.

The elusiveness of one's center is understandable enough, though uncomfortable and unprofitable. We first lose the reins in times of trauma, often early in life when the "primitive mind" can only blame itself for disaster ('the trauma must have been my fault, therefore I can't, I'm not, I'll never'). Thus, in defensive reaction to trauma, we form strong limiting beliefs that over time become unconscious. These beliefs result in blind spots and knee-jerk reactions that become the focal points of unfulfillment. These automatic attitudes and reactions tend to be self-fulfilling, to generate more ineffectiveness through events that reinforce the belief (a pattern). In our original and perfectly appropriate desire to get away from the hot stove (the trauma), we often find ourselves as adults avoiding the whole kitchen! The result can be missed opportunities, unseen choices, prolonged decision dilemmas, and silent personality clashes.

The new leader strives for inner freedom, full choice between the various dichotomies facing us daily. Dichotomies are collections of opposite emotional values that result in everyday conflict. Examples are Wrong/Right, Dependent/Independent, Love/Hate, Inferior/Superior, and Good/Evil. Inner freedom means that neither side of the dichotomy is unduly weighted, resulting in more objective choices. Acting from this center, the leader may prefer to be right but doesn't have to be right. The leader who has the emotional flexibility to be wrong can approach a decision-making process with the goal to understand all viewpoints before selecting the best. This is true leadership and is quite different from entering the process unconsciously bent on prevailing. In the first instance, we adjust the project blueprint for the best result, an inexpensive change in the planning stage. In the second we are down the road moving whole walls in an expensive and often blind attempt to recoup.

Click here to see examples of "abandonment."

The new leader is able to combine this inner freedom with practical implementation, thus achieving the environment that fosters consistent closure, proactivity and vision-driven productivity. This priceless achievement begins with the journey within.
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