Leadership is not being the smartest in the room

How did I get passed over on a leadership position and then get it offered it twice 3 years later from the insights I got from counseling? 

For quite a while I thought leadership was being the smartest in the room and it shone through at the interview I had. Still not getting it the keys to being a good leader after what I then classed as a failure, I studied and studied, still thinking I had to have credentials to be a leader. That there was some key I was missing. It was also my thinking about the path to being a great psychologist. In session with clients I thought I had to learn lots of interventions to do ‘to’ them. I felt so much pressure to fix them and so much responsibility. It was stressful. I would show them all the brilliant insights I had into their situation, their patterns that I could see so clearly and I would use many interventions in session. I prided myself in giving them value for money and tried to fit so much into every session. 

Then finally one day, I got it. As usual I would ask the returning client what worked in the last session. They didn’t often mention the brilliant insights or intervention but something quite simple. It was a question I asked them. 

I realised then that I just had to get them to find the answer themselves, not tell them the answer. Just like my clients I had to learn it myself. It wasn’t new information, I had seen the research on how getting the client to think was more likely able to change their brain. But at that moment I got it and I haven’t forgotten it since. I started to relax more and believe that the client was able to solve their own problems. Sure I gave them some good resources to learn and then apply but essentially I was really just listening for a cue to ask the right great questions. 

So how does this apply to being a leader? 

I learnt the hard way that a leader does need to have some strategy, knowledge about how to lead, great ideas for a vision and confidence to make decisions quickly. But mostly I learnt that it’s about helping your people make the best of themselves. Working to their strengths, helping them find how to develop where they are less skilled. Helping them live their best lives at work and have enough energy when they get home to play with their kids! Find out how to make them better. Find ways that you can communicate better and handle change better so they can perform better and then teach them the same skills. You become a facilitator, an activator, a coach, a motivator and a guide. 

“Making sure that impact lasts in your absence,” Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook says. The sure way to do that is to develop your team and help them to think. Help them to solve their own problems by learning how to coach them. How to ask the right questions to get them to be confident in themselves. 

Here is a powerpoint from one of my leadership trainings, How to give effective Feedback. This is a graph that shows the brain waves required for learning to occur. Firstly you see the person needs to have a level of relaxation, with the alpha around. Then you see the gamma peaks at the time that the individual learns something and the brain becomes restructured. This only happens when they come up with the insight. Then the neural path is laid down and they are more likely to remember and make the desired learning a habit. Of course other things come into play, but it is a good case for allowing the person to answer the question themselves around increasing their performance, what they will do next time, etc. 

When you want change, learning how to do this is essential. Each leader needs to know how to coach and thus know how to influence. This when results come in your unit or department. It may feel like you are giving your power away by not being the one with all the answers. But no one succeeds on their own and you don’t work 24 hours a day in your unit. 

The trouble is that an excellent clinical pathway does not mean that your leadership team have had a good clinical leadership pathway. Nursing leadership now is pointing towards being Coaching leader and they also need good skills in influence to help lead change.

Ask me how if you like by dropping me a message.

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