What does it take to be a great leader? Visit Alexandria’s fall 2022 webinar, “Love in Leadership,” explored the ins and outs of strong leadership, with expertise from James Robilotta, award-winning leadership coach and Michelle Kolacz, manager of experiences & programming at Building Momentum. Keep reading to learn best practices for sharing positive and negative feedback, increasing efficiency in your team via curiosity and much more.
Cultivating Teams Through Curiosity
How do you eat your pancakes? Do you dip your fries in your milkshake? Silly as these questions sound, it’s our “weirds,” those little bursts of humanity, that connect us. Building stronger teams starts with curiosity—Questions lead to stories; stories lead to connection; connection leads to trust; trust leads to loyalty.
We tend to write people’s stories before we truly know them. When it comes to applying love into leadership, learning takes a bit more time. Teams aren’t built over email. But teams that trust each other operate efficiently.
The “Supervision Spectrum” and Self-Awareness
What do you, as a leader, value? Consider where you stand along the following leadership spectrum:
- Boss: This type of leader maintains loose connections with their employees, values team performance over dynamics, errs on the side of micromanaging and tends to be seen as unapproachable.
- Friend: This type of leader attempts to establish personal relationships with their employees, values team dynamics over performance, errs on the side of leniency and is often not respected.
- Great Leader: This type of leader maintains professional relationships with their employees, sees team performance and dynamics as equally important and closely related, backs relatability with credibility and is seen as both a leader and advocate.
Another quality of leadership is self-awareness. What actions can you take to move yourself from either extreme end of the spectrum toward being a “great leader?”
Investment + Commitment = Love in Leadership
When it comes to incorporating a spirit of love into leadership, these two principles are key.
Investing in your team starts with making the decision to care. When you make the decision to care, you naturally display the behaviors of active listening
During growth conversations, offer courageous, personalized feedback. Start with a question: What did they believe the expectation was of them? This can help elucidate if there is an issue of clarity or competence. Then, share a story about yourself in a similar scenario; this leaves space for humanity. Afterwards, you can develop a plan together to get back on track.
Investing in your team also means showing thoughtful appreciation in the way that others feel appreciated, be that words of affirmation, a gift, etc. Lastly, offer authentic curiosity and support about what your employees do outside of work—what brings them joy?
Committing to your team means offering patience and persistence, because growth is a process. It also looks like advocating for your employees by creating an environment where people are seen, heard and respected, validating their lived experiences. Lastly, it means showing up for your employees.
Practice encouraging an environment of trust and loyalty with the following improv-inspired exercise from Building Momentum with your team:
- Pretend you’re planning a party Shania Twain. Half the group can suggest ideas, but the other half must simply say “no” (or, in this case, “That don’t impress me much…”). Halfway through, switch roles. Afterwards, have your team share how it felt to produce ideas and have them shut down.
- Then, imagine you’re planning a party for Elton John. This time, one half calls out ideas, and the other half can build on these ideas but must start with “Yes, but…” As with last round, switch roles halfway through and share how it felt afterwards.
- In this final round, you’ll be planning a party for Beyoncé. Now, one half of the team can suggest ideas, and the other half must reply with “Yes, and…”
It is difficult to come up with ideas after repeatedly getting shut down. Even if we don’t accept every idea point blank, observe the power of a “yes” to cultivate a spirit of openness.
Insider Tip: Watch the full “Love in Leadership” webinar here. Plus, energize your C-Suite with inspiring principles via Leadership Collection at Alexandria. Connect with the Visit Alexandria team to find your next team meeting venue.