Gemma chats about why wholehearted leadership matters, even for world leaders.
We’ve had an opportunity over recent months to observe world leaders in action as they navigate their way through the complicated and ever-changing situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Countless conversations have ensued on their general effectiveness as leaders with ratings on many and varied scales; the number of deaths in their country, the economic impact, the number of cases, the support for jobs and businesses. While these are all important outputs of successful leadership they’re not all within the immediate control of the leader; many other factors play a part. Population make-up and density, the current state of the healthcare system, economic wealth, ways of counting and recording figures; I could go on and on.
How then can we compare the relative merits of these leaders? In thinking of this question I’m drawn to the work of Brené Brown; author, researcher and public speaker – on wholehearted leadership.
In her book, ‘Dare to Lead’, Brené Brown invites leaders to dare to be brave leaders by leading with wholehearted leadership. Leaders need the courage to be imperfect, to have compassion for themselves and others and to present who they really are rather than who they think they should be. She suggests that leading in this way will build trust, engagement and accountability.
In organisations, we know these traits result in tangible business benefits. A 2020 CMI (Chartered Management Institute) report which polled nearly 2.300 senior leaders, managers and employees found that the secret to improved productivity is trust. Where managers trust their direct reports 43% agreed they’d seen a direct increase in productivity. In countries, these traits will manifest themselves in similarly important ways. People will be more likely to follow the latest COVID-19 restrictions as they’ll trust the people who are making the decisions, knowing that they’ve been made from a place of compassion by a leader who’s prepared to admit their mistakes.
So, when we consider the strength of today’s world leaders I believe we should think of their authenticity, compassion, willingness to be vulnerable and ability to take courageous decisions. Now how do you think they stack up?