Achievement in the post-Covid world has to be beyond the ego

If you are not self-aware, able to manage your emotions, relate to others and manage relationships, then your advanced journey which builds that deeper values-based approach described, lacks a solid foundation, says Danielle Grant

We are all living in what Confucius would call ‘interesting times’. The world as we knew it just a few months ago seems to have vanished and uncertainty, insecurity and a sense of threat are rife.

Humans are wired as survival machines. Despite our sophisticated technology, our brains and bodies are still programmed to respond to potential threats as we did in prehistoric times. Fight, Flight, Freeze! To some extent we are all frozen right now. But equally, we are seeing a resurgence of nature and an exponential explosion of rapid change in organisations with processes and decisions that used to take months, if not years, now happening in days. So, what are the characteristics that enable that agile and responsive leadership? We are not going to give up our aspirations, but we now know we cannot achieve them by working longer and harder in the office! So that means we have to work differently. To do that, we have to think, feel and see the world differently.

As a McKinsey & Company article stated in late March 2020: ‘Leaders with the right temperament and character are necessary during times of uncertainty. They stay curious and flexible but can still make the tough calls, even if that makes them unpopular. They gather differing perspectives and then make the decisions, with the best interests of the organisation (not their careers) in mind, without needing a full consensus.’

So, is there a way to codify this and enable these desirable attributes to be developed by anybody who wants to?

We develop what we call ‘Transpersonal Leaders’. These are people who are not driven by personal gain or prestige, but by their purpose, values and self-determination. They lead beyond the ego, in the interests of all the stakeholders of the organisation, including the community and, even, the planet. They are REAL – Radical, Ethical, Authentic Leaders who are also Caring.

To develop as a transpersonal leader means going on a journey of deeper and extended self-awareness. The first part of the journey is to identify where habitual behaviour needs to change and become more emotionally intelligent, then go deeper still to truly understand and bring into full consciousness one’s values and how those are brought into being in the world. This may be through energy, drive, caring and even altruistic love. This allows a leader to consider their decisions against a touchstone of:

  • ‘Does this decision consider all the stakeholders?’,
  • ‘Is it solely in my self- interest?’
  • ‘Does it serve to further my higher purpose?’,
  • ‘Does it align with my values of (say, integrity, honesty, fairness, humility)?’
  • ‘What are the long-term impacts on each stakeholder group?’

This allows boldness to be tempered with just enough prudence to maximise the potential upsides for all.

That this is an appropriate model for the emergence of the world from the CV19 chrysalis can be illustrated by using the REAL acronym and linking that to the changes we are already observing.

Radical – as examples, consider those who have converted their clothing businesses to create face coverings and PPE in a matter of days. Other examples are the many alcohol and perfume businesses that are manufacturing hand sanitisers and the vehicle/tech companies such as SpaceX, Formula 1 teams and others that have moved production to provide ventilators. Drug companies have accelerated clinical trials to respond to the urgency. Radical approaches are even seen in the government agencies who have responded to both financial needs and regulatory relaxations required to implement the lockdown and assist the recovery.

Ethical – many organisations have foregone commercial opportunities, offered software for virtual meetings to health-related bodies without charge. Donated time, resources and energy to help the global effort. We are seeing less evidence of an attitude that “greed is good” or shortcuts being taken for expediency.

Authentic – Most of the world leaders, (set in stark relief by some who are still driven by self-interest), scientists and business leaders are showing themselves to be realistic and genuinely seeking to help the world survive and be in a position to thrive again in the future. I hear more genuine sentiment than I can ever recall before. Have we left party politics behind? Sadly not, but I do see more authenticity.

Leader – people are making decisions rapidly, they are also consulting widely, recognising they do not have all the answers.

The one letter that is crucial and not included in the acronym REAL is the word:

C- Caring. The surge of caring is self-evident. Every week in many countries around the globe, millions of people stand on doorsteps applauding the health service and carers. The value of these key workers is being recognised like never before and millions of people are volunteering to help those isolated, at risk or offer their time to help deliver key services. Retired medics have returned to the front line. People queue patiently to enter stores and increasingly wear face coverings to show they care about the well-being of their fellow humans.

To codify and embed this REAL, caring leadership more widely, we have to enable the leadership journey summarised in this diagram. This builds up from rational ego-led leadership through the core competencies of emotional intelligence. If one is not self-aware, able to manage one’s emotions, relate to others and manage relationships, then the advanced journey which builds that deeper values-based approach described, lacks a solid foundation.

To emulate these powerful examples and take forward these progressive ideas is a path that is open to anybody who is prepared to rise to the challenge of Tolstoy: ‘Everyone wants to change the world but nobody wants to change themselves.’ Anybody can travel the path to Transpersonal Leadership. The journey is ideally taken with the support of an accredited Transpersonal Leadership Coach. It is a path you can choose to follow to lead your teams and organisation out of the quicksand of uncertainty and crisis through to the sunny beaches of recovery.

Danielle Grant is a Director of LeaderShape Global with many years’ experience coaching and facilitating programs at CEO and Director level and co-author of LEADING BEYOND THE EGO: How To Become A Transpersonal Leader. A former businesswoman, she is a thought leader in blended learning methodologies. For more information visit www.leadershapeglobal.com

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