Leading a group of peers is arguably the hardest situation a manager can find themselves in. For whatever reason—be it slightly more experience, a higher level of maturity, or perhaps the trust of supervisors—we can sometimes find ourselves placed in charge of a group of colleagues who hold roughly the same rank and position as our own. Without a base of power to fall back on, these situations call for a unique style of leadership that we don’t often talk about. To understand how to be successful in this type of situation, we should first unpack the basics of leadership research and then dive into how effective (and ineffective) peer leadership techniques can help us be successful.More
A recent phone conversation with a mentee led me to discover the incredible impact of leaders creating moments for others. Our relationship began four years ago when he served as a new freshman in the West Point cadet company I oversaw. Now a senior, in our conversation a few weeks ago, he shared a story from his freshman year where he was struggling to collect all the items he needed for a unit inspection that was occurring, which he was already late for. He recalled being flustered and after frantically searching his entire room for the necessary items and not finding them, he hopefully looked for any support in the barracks hallway. I happen to be in the hallway at that moment, heading to observe the inspection myself, when I encountered the cadet. He was embarrassed but looked to me for what to do.More
3×5 Leadership Note: Leadership by Wandering Around was the first article we wrote and published when we created 3×5 Leadership. To date, it remains the most popular article. That tells us the idea resonates with many. So, to celebrate 3×5 Leadership turning 5-years-old this month, we want to revisit this essential idea and expand on the idea with what we have learned over these years. Enjoy!
The idea of presence remains a critical component to effective leadership. It is an essential ingredient to building trust, deepening connections, and creating shared understanding with those we work with and lead. And while physically being present is the foundation of this idea, it requires so much more like our attitudes, words, and behaviors during those times. Regardless of industry and organizational context, leader presence is necessary; it is something we can enact across physical and digital domains.More
In my decade-long journey of growth as a leader so far, I’ve come to firmly believe that one of the greatest impacts I can have as a leader (and a developer of other leaders) is to create leadership space for others to fill. Creating this space, enabling others to fill it, and supporting their growth throughout the experience truly is one of the best things we can do to nurture others’ leader development. This directly supports the 70-20-10 Model for Learning and Development (70% of learning occurs from challenging experiences and assignments), cultivates ownership and responsibility within those leaders, gives them experience to expand their perspectives, and creates rich opportunity for follow-on reflection and learning (even from failure).More
In a recent WorkLife podcast episode I listened to, the host, Adam Grant, made a statement that resonated deeply. He said, “Let’s ban psychological solutions to organizational problems.” That sentence felt like a 100-pound brick being dropped in my lap! He went on to list common examples that may be all too familiar to many of us – organizations applying employee-based fixes like mindfulness activities, emotional intelligence training, or strategies to avoid personal burnout, when really the organization has deeper rooted issues like the need to remove an abusive boss or diagnose ineffective and inefficient systems. And while I have written on emotional intelligence and avoiding personal burnout on this platform, I think Grant’s idea is valid and warrants exploring.More
Empathy plays a critical role in leadership. It impacts how we interact with and relate to those we lead.
Personally, empathy was a leadership quality near the top of my “needs development” list just a few years ago. Following feedback that I needed to grow this capacity, I invested time and effort to learn more about the science of empathy, ways to integrate it into my leadership style, and practice it to build the muscle. Now, I’m confident that empathy has become a strength of mine, no longer a developmental need.
But experiences this past year have taught me a new dynamic to empathy and leadership that I was blind to before – the need to have empathy up our chain of command or organizational chart. More
I recently had a conversation with an organizational leader who expressed that “empathetic leadership” is one of the biggest threats to the performance of his team. He believed that team members simply sought for their leaders to be more empathetic to their challenges and circumstance (really sympathy), and that leaders felt called to be more nurturing of their people, leading to an inability to maintain high standards of performance. As I listened to this leader speak more on his unapproving perceptions on empathy and leadership, I realized the source of the issue – I think he has an inaccurate and limited view on the role of empathy in leadership.
This issue is not unique to this leader or case. We have an enduring problem in our understanding of empathy and leadership that tends to fall into one of three issues.More