Sunday, July 26, 2009

Fun/Light Leadership: Wins Support Hands Down

In an article titled, Social Intelligence and the Biology of Leadership, Daniel Goleman [discoverer of Emotional Intelligence] and Richard Boyatzis profile something I think we all implicitly know and connect with, but notwithstanding, are great leadership facts.

In every human mind there’s a “subset of mirror neurons” which is adept at feeling alive and awakened at the concept of being led by a fun-filled, ‘light’ manager. A workplace where good-natured humour is an everyday feature, and there’s little or no risk of criticism and condemnation, is a workplace people strive all their lives to find.

Sadly, many do not find this utopic workplace for years of job-jumping, and the missing link is leadership skills devoid of humility and the desire to gift people. The acid’s on current-day managers. Leadership is more about giving than it is about receiving.

Goleman and Boyatzis extend the concept further:

“Leading effectively is, in other words, less about mastering situations--or even mastering social skill sets--than about developing a genuine interest in and talent for fostering positive feelings in the people whose cooperation and support you need.” (Italics and bold mine.)
This provides food for thought, and a reflection point, on how to lead effectively. Of course, this only confirms what we already implicitly know.

The leader, as it is in reality, is heavily dependent on their team (and each member) and achieving outcomes via influence and personal charisma, as the generations-old method of ‘command and control’ is rarely effective in today’s world, even in the military.

The best leaders serve their teams; they provide leadership through example. They influence through inspiration. They inspire growth by pushing themselves more than their team or individual members of their team. They seem to be always good-natured; they know they have to be.

The leader’s mood is under constant scrutiny and he or she therefore has to find the sort of life balance which facilitates being in a ‘good mood’ the vast majority of the time:

“Being in a good mood, other research finds, helps people take in information effectively and respond nimbly and creatively. In other words, laughter is serious business.”
I don’t know about you, but I suspect you’ll relate... interacting at work in situations where there’s conflict and that distance-of-rapport defuses the passion I bring to that life outlet. It quenches my creativity and any sense of my personal ability to influence outcomes for the corporate good. I just become ‘dead’ in an environment where ‘the boss’ refuses to invest in fun, with me, at the personal level.

We all want integrally at our centre to be valued for the contribution we might bring; it’s the leader’s role to engender this environment, free of narcissism and fear, immersed in peace and good. Leadership is hence the wind beneath the individual’s and team’s wings, providing freedom to fly.

Refract the fun and we destroy what’s good about life.

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved.
Daniel Goleman & Richard Boyatzis, “Social Intelligence and the Biology of Leadership” in Harvard Business Review (Sept 2008). Retrieved 22 July 2009.

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