- Anese Cavanaugh is the creator of the IEP Method (Intentional Energetic Presence) and is an advisor and thinking partner to leaders and organisations around the world. She’s the author of “Contagious You: Unlock Your Power to Influence, Lead, and Create the Impact You Want.”
- She’s worked with leaders for over two decades, and has watched trends come and go. When it comes to effective results, she says it’s all about the “human stuff.”
- Leaders should prioritise their own self-care, be present, and be cognisant of the energy they’re bringing into spaces. They should focus on what’s important and invest in their teams.
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I’ve worked with business leaders and organisations for over two decades now. I’ve watched trends in leadership and culture come and go, seen buzzwords rise and fall, and elevated thinking, innovation, and ways of creating solid business and people results.
The majority of the outcomes and results I’ve seen be created effectively, authentically, and sustainably have been grounded in addressing “the human stuff.”
What is the human stuff? It’s the “intangibles” that make business, leadership, and culture work. Things like intentions, energy, presence, regard, nuanced communication, intuition, and self-care are often “back-burnered” as they’re harder to “touch,” prioritise, or get our arms around. But they are everything.
As we head into this next decade of leadership, there are several leadership skills that I believe it will be essential for us to lean into. In the interest of keeping them short and sweet, I offer you 10 here to get you started.
1. Prioritise self-care and the well-being of you (and your workforce)
Self-care is a leadership skill. We cannot lead at our best and hold the strongest “container” for those we love and lead if we’re burnt out, exhausted, unhappy, unkind to ourselves, and not fully resourced.
2. Be present and prioritise people
Our (true) presence is one of the greatest gifts we can give each other. Your people feeling seen will give you more. Period. Prioritise the human, be present with them, see them – and create guardrails, agreements for performance, and clear expectations. Then set them free to do their magic.
3. Get clear on your intention and purpose, lead from love, and be ‘in service of’
Intention is at the root of creating impact. Moving fast and navigating the demands around us, it’s easy to forget or disconnect from intention (or not to have one to begin with). Pausing to consider intention and to get clear on purpose –why we’re doing what we’re doing, who it impacts, and what it’s all for – clarifies actions and decisions, points energy in the right direction, creates clean “yes’s” and “no’s,” and makes those hard decisions easier.
4. Tend to the ‘soft stuff’ or the ‘human stuff’ — the unspoken and intangible — and the cost of negative energy in your organisation
Negative energy is costing us billions of dollars a year in the US – a 2017 Gallup study put us at $US483 billion to $US605 billion a year in lost productivity due to actively disengaged employees.
“Actively disengaged” has everything to do with the energy in your organisation. While it’s been easy and tempting to skip dealing with the “soft stuff” in leadership and culture, you cannot. Leaders and organisations who want to go further faster and better will lean into it.
5. Work your first impression
You have a tenth of a second to make a first impression.Ninety-three per cent of your impact is in how you’re showing up, and you are contagious. It means something to pay attention here. The energy and presence you bring into a room will be felt and likely taken on by others (just as you may take on theirs). You can set the tone, or you can be clobbered by it.
6. Cut the baloney. Tell the truth.
If your intentions are clean and you’re focusing on the right things, the truth works just great. Save yourself a ton of time, energy, and bandwidth to focus on the right things (as opposed to posturing, pretending, and evading hard truths). We are all doing the best we can. We’re human. So … be human. Be humble. Ask for help. Lean into vulnerability. And create space for others to do the same.
7. Get comfortable with your discomfort
If you really want to lead and create impact, you’re going to have to get comfortable with your discomfort – comfortable with confronting the things you may not want to address head on, comfortable saying “no” to things that don’t line up, and comfortable with saying “yes” to things that do but that stretch you. Your comfort with discomfort is proportional to how far you can lead. Lean in.
8. Take 100% accountability for your experience, your leadership, and your results
You are the author of your life – what you create is totally up to you. You have zero control over anyone else or anything, but you do control you. Take the time to set yourself up well through your self-talk, intentions, and planning. Create boundaries and take a minute to hear yourself think.
9. Prioritise and focus on the right things
You can have it all – if you must. And … that may mean you’re exhausted, or doing it subpar on all levels. Prioritise meaning, show up, do it well, lead well, stay well, and bring all of you to what’s most important. And then move to the “next” when you’re ready.
10. Hold a solid container for yourself and others
This means seeing the best in yourself and your people, getting curious about what is possible for you in your growth (and for them), seeing, and believing.
Challenge people to step up – give them productive feedback and commit to being in service of their growth than you are to being liked (or comfortable).
If you wish for more of a deep dive, take a look at the IEP Method, or read my latest book. The great thing is that whether you desire to be more as an organisation in 2020 – or as an individual leader – this all works together.
To your next decade. Let’s lead.
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