What makes someone a leader? In this video interview, Certified Professional Co-Active Coach Mary-Ellen Hynd says that a real leader is “someone who people follow willingly. It’s not about power and it’s not about position.” Which begs the question: How do you get people to follow you willingly?
Accountability and self-awareness
Given the lack of trust that’s rampant in many companies, Hynd says leaders need to show employees that they are accountable. That accountability includes looking not just at the financial bottom line, but at how the company treats its employees, the communities it works in, and the environment.
This kind of leadership requires deep self-awareness. It means knowing what your values are and being guided by those values. Perhaps most important, it also means adopting a mind-set that allows you to see opportunities rather than obstacles.
Managing creative vs. reactive tendencies
According to Hynd, leaders (and all of us) are predisposed to respond to challenging situations in one of two ways:
- Reactive: When leaders make fear-based decisions as a result of experiencing anxiety. In this mode, leaders can be defensive, and feel a sense of powerlessness.
- Creative: When leaders’ decisions come from a place of possibility and compassion. In this mind-set, leaders feel powerful and open to possibilities. This mode makes others want to follow you.
3 questions to ask yourself
Developing a leader’s mind-set requires consistent self-reflection. In this interview, Hynd suggests asking yourself the following three questions to tap into your creative tendencies and identify what values guide you as a leader.
- What keeps me up at night? This may reveal something that is holding you back.
- Why do others follow me? This questions points to the values you need to honor as a leader.
- How can I be creative vs. reactive? Hynd calls this the “power of the pause.” Allow yourself to reflect before making a reactive decision, and instead see the opportunities a situation might present. Ask yourself how you can be creative in this situation, and who else you can involve to solve the problem.
Mary-Ellen’s “Coaching to Develop a Leadership Mind-set” workshop runs 1–22 November through the IABC Academy. You’ll find details about the workshop, including learning outcomes and registration info, here.
This video interview was updated on 17 October 2016 by Associate Editor Khyla Flores.