The power of “connection” and “being real” in leadership

I love this 7 minute podcast on leadership with George Kohlrieser, professor of leadership and organizational behavior at IMD.  It so beautifully reflects a dimension of our work in executive coaching which is about “connecting” and “being real” with deep emotions.

He shines the spotlight on leadership as the art of relationships. 

  1. Good working connections:  At 5C!Concept, part of our unique executive coaching process is based on the leader’s individual communication profile.  Here we explore a leader’s natural style of communicating and the impact of this natural style on others.  Often leaders simply communicate without real awareness of impact.  We coach leaders to observe moments of connection and moments of disconnection – with themselves and with others! Communicating with awareness and taking responsibility for impact is fundamental in creating trustful working relationships.  Because with this attitude, you are no longer in your own head…but “out there” connecting with the other person.  You are reaching out and creating bonding and intimacy.  With intimacy, we mean “into-me-see”, it means that you are seeing the other person, the other human being at the other side of the table with whom you are having a discussion.  Allowing bonding and intimacy in your working relationships doesn’t mean that you become “best friends”.  It means that you are able to works towards a goal with each other in a respectful way without tension.
  • How do you connect with others?
  • How do you notice moments of connection or disconnection within yourself and with others?
  • How do you create your relationships?
  • What energy is created in your relationships?

2. Dealing with deep emotions: the second statement with which I wholeheartedly agree is that: “organisations deny the massive amount of disappointments, jealousies, grief, fear….”   This is so true and expanding the capacity to be OK with deep emotions is another important dimension of our coaching process.  We have heard so many messages that say “don’t feel”, that this has become the way we deal with our emotions.  “Don’t be afraid”, “don’t be sad”…  as if these emotions are something negative.  No, they aren’t.  They make us human.  It’s OK to feel.  It’s OK to feel fear.  It’s OK to feel sadness and grief.  Feel them, embrace them.  Don’t push them away, because if you believe that by not allowing yourself to feel them, they will be gone… you are wrong.  Without realizing it, those supressed emotions will steer you and your actions will be rooted in them.  If you allow yourself to “be real” with them, accept them for what they are, you are creating space for choice, how to be with them and how you choose to work with them.  Being real with them doesn’t mean that you have to live them out.  It means that you allow yourself to feel them, notice them and make conscious choices.

A leader who has developed the skill of dealing with his own deep emotions, can much better lead his organization through change.  Every change evokes emotions of loss, grief, anxiety etc. within the people in your organization. Being able to hold the space for them, feel with them, “meet them where they are” and lead them to what is next, is an important leadership skill.  As Georg Kohlrieser states in the podcast:  “The secret of high performance leadership is I’m able to get over something quickly, and help others to get over something quickly.”

Example: An executive said to one of his managers who was going through feelings of disappointment and loss: “You are senior enough to deal with this decision. Make sure you get things back on track.”  The impact was that this manager decided to search another job and to leave the company.  He had taken the decision that he didn’t want to work for this executive anymore,  as he was as cold as ice.

Do you think, the impact would have been the same, if the executive would had said: “I understand that the decisions that were taken are a big disappointment for you.  I understand that you feel this as a loss.  (This is meeting the manager where he is, in this moment, not avoiding emotions but being real with them)  Allow silence, simply be with the manager and hold his space. (Then lead into what is next).  The decisions taken are what they are and cannot be changed.  (Being real, being clear and reinforcing what is not negotiable is helping the manager to move from disappointment to acceptance) I trust you will be able to get the project back on track and if you want to talk through some items, my door is open.  (encouraging to recover and move on and show that as a leader, you are available.) 

Maybe not, because people want to see the human in the leader.  As a leader, you can be clear, real and human.  It takes the capacity to be comfortable with deep emotions.

  • What is your relationship with deep emotions?
  • How do your emotions help you make conscious choices?
  • How comfortable are you in dealing with deep emotions of others?

If this resonates with you and you feel a desire to strengthen your leadership and work on these “leadership muscles”, we’d be thrilled to work with you!



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9 Responses to The power of “connection” and “being real” in leadership

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