Lorraine Hamilton explains one of three principles to ‘Legendary Leadership’ – Creating a safe space. Particularly important in these worrying times of isolation and social-distancing. We have heard for years about the importance of leadership in an organisation, business or work environment – but what if the leadership that we experienced (and demonstrated) was “legendary […]
Lorraine Hamilton explains one of three principles to ‘Legendary Leadership’ – Creating a safe space. Particularly important in these worrying times of isolation and social-distancing.
We have heard for years about the importance of leadership in an organisation, business or work environment – but what if the leadership that we experienced (and demonstrated) was “legendary leadership”? Not only during times of strife and challenge, as we are experiencing now, but as the new normal.
What is Legendary Leadership?
I believe Legendary Leadership is not about telling people what to do. It’s about helping them to see that they have it in them in the first place.
There are three Principles to Legendary Leadership:
1. Creating a Safe Space
2. Masterful Goal Setting
3. Positive Engagement
In this article I am going to elaborate on the first one: Creating a Safe Space
Legendary Leadership Principle One: Creating a safe space
What do I mean by a safe space?
High performance and innovation thrive in a safe environment.
In today’s climate particularly, people are feeling not only uncomfortable but also unsafe. There is a great deal of uncertainty with job security and the ‘how’ of how they will continue to work, manage their teams etc.
When your team can rely on you to be calm, confident and supportive consistently, they will begin to unlock their own potential.
We are all a unique recipe of values, beliefs and experiences and no two people see the world in exactly the same way.
Your willingness to be flexible as a leader is the key to getting the best from your team.
Minimise stress in your team
Creativity is the number one skill that more than 77 percent of CEOs are looking for, according to Forbes’ Leadership Survey.
Creative thinking cannot survive in an environment where people are under stress, which means that all of your careful recruiting has been wasted if you cannot minimise stressful situations for your staff.
Dr Vincent Covello, a behavioural neuro and visual scientist, discovered through his research that peoples’ ability to process information when under stress is compromised by up to 80 percent. Another way to look at it is that when your team is stressed they are operating at four grade levels below their actual education standard.
The more stress you can remove or protect your team from, the more creatively they will think and the safer the space you will create.
Build authentic connection (it’s more than rapport)
Authentic connection is the ability to appreciate one another’s point of view (although not necessarily to agree with it). It is being on the same wavelength, understanding and accepting one another’s feelings and is essential for effective communication.
The 4 Guiding Principles for Building Authentic Connection
- Be approachable and easy to talk to, take the time to be available to listen and be fully present.
- Be a ‘safe’ person who does not hold what people say against them and never engage in reprisal.
- Acknowledge people when they speak, appreciate that their communication may involve personal risk-taking.
- Be congruent in your thoughts, words and actions.
Optimise your language for authentic connection:
Pitch can be most simply defined as the key of your voice. A high pitch is often interpreted as anxious or upset. A low pitch sounds more serious and authoritative. Use a moderate pitch to convey safety and security.
Here are some tips on creating a positive, authoritative tone:
- Sit up straight and listen.
- Keep your thinking positive.
Speed also has an effect on the tone and emotional quality of your message.
A hurried pace can make the listener feel anxious and rushed. A slow pace can make the listener feel as though your message is not important. A moderate pace will seem natural, and will help the listener focus on your message, and feel that they are in safe hands.
Some people speak in short sentences, whereas others speak in longer descriptive language.
Match the size of the content chunks that your team member prefers where possible.
Reflect the other person’s language back to them. If they use certain words or refer to significant experiences often, use these in your conversation.
The number one way to create a safe space is to be as consistent as you can when you interact with your team. This means being the one thing that they can count on to be the same in a changing world.
A legendary leader is one who can be counted on not to lose their head when all around are losing theirs. Be dependable to your team and they will weather the storms with you as an able and willing crew.
Creating a safe space in times of isolation and social-distancing
You can still create a safe space when your team members are working remotely. As you have seen, creating a safe space has nothing to do with the physical space that you are in.
Legendary leaders take the time to get to know the challenges that their people are facing with remote working and their own stress and fears. Ask questions and don’t assume that they are experiencing stress in the same way.
In practical terms, there are ways to ensure that you are still inspiring and empowering your team:
- Make a dedicated space to video call from (or use Zoom’s virtual backgrounds). Make sure that your team know what to expect when they log in. Where will you be calling from? Can you be in the same space each time?
- Avoid cancelling meetings with your team, especially one-to-ones, unless absolutely necessary. Your team need to know that they are seen and are important to you. Put them first as often as you can.
- Remember to be about culture building and fun whenever possible. For example, if you have a culture of running meetings with an icebreaker or game, you can still do that, it might just look a little different. Get creative.
During this challenging and uncertain time that we’re currently facing, I am convinced that Legendary Leaders will emerge.
Because they’ll have to.
For more detail on how to identify your own stress patterns and ensure you are showing up in the best way possible for your team, watch this on-demand training:
Lorraine Hamilton PCC, is a former radio frequency engineering leader and now executive coach and motivational speaker. She knows that Legendary Leadership begins with Personal Leadership and she works with clients globally to bring them true happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment.