The Ultimate Leadership Formula for 2023
Discover three things to focus on next year.
Photo by Andy Vu
You read about leadership every day:
What is leadership?
What skills do you need to learn to be a leader?
What are the differences between leadership and management?
Isn’t it tiring to keep track of all the right and bad advice?
I have a solution.
This year, I have been working with managers, solopreneurs, and people at career crossroads. They all have one thing in common. They want to change something. But where to start?
It is a puzzle. But instead of overwhelming yourself by doing too many things and ultimately giving up.
I suggest focusing on these three: communication, flexibility, and empathy.
The formula explained
Most of the team’s problems come from a lack of communication, flexibility, or empathy.
Communication and flexibility have a deep relationship. One makes the other stronger. But the ability to understand and share other people’s feelings and problems makes them work efficiently together and ultimately creates teamwork.
When you put them together you immediately see four quadrants emerging:
Sleep mode: low flexibility and low communication
Sleep mode has one advantage - it does not cost too much of your energy.
You operate in a red-tape environment. Someone makes decisions for you and your team. It all happens externally.
Communication is poor and one-sided. You work mostly alone, as everyone should do their own thing. There is not much initiative as you know ‘they’ will not support it.
Sleep mode can be comfortable for some people. But how long can it be sustainable in today's volatile environment?
Conversation club: low flexibility and high communication
If you work with people who like talking, you probably attend loads of meetings. You are used to talking about everything.
Yet, there is always a ‘but’ or ‘we don’t know’.
Even when you talk about what needs to be done and why it would be beneficial. The lack of flexibility hinders your team members from taking a step forward.
Speaking from my experience, I spent a year developing a brand-new strategic initiative. After hundreds of hours and one year later, we were still at square zero. No alignment or agreement was ever reached.
Participation in conversations is good, but there needs to be a resolution.
Ignored creativity: high flexibility and low communication
Remember when you started your job? You probably had a lot of creative ideas about what to change or make better.
Then you get 'no' multiple times. That takes your wind away.
Why would you try when other people do not listen to you? You still have ideas but do not actively talk about them anymore.
Ignorance is a real missed opportunity for many leaders.
The problem is that they do not want to let things slip and are not open to listening or to feedback. They show they do not trust others. Inevitably, your talents will leave for different jobs.
Teamwork: high flexibility and high communication
Is teamwork flawless? It certainly is not. Even if you wish, there will always be misunderstandings, false expectations, and problems.
What makes teamwork great is you don’t aim for perfection but focus on collaboration.
The most successful leaders do not work alone. They communicate with others, can see different points of view, are empathetic, and support solutions even if they do not come from their minds. Flexible leaders make decisions based on what is appropriate at that moment and for the future. Not for them personally.
Being able to work as a team member and support teamwork is an invaluable soft skill many overlook.
As Henry Ford said:
"If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself."
Where is empathy?
I often hear that some people are empathic, and others are not by default. I want you to change your opinion.
Empathy generally involves a much more active attempt to understand another person.
You can actively practice empathy. It is not something magical that just happens. Take control of this skill because:
You understand what reactions some communication can cause.
People share their problems, doubts, and ideas.
You try to imagine how others feel.
It improves your listening skills.
They come to you for advice.
You care about others.
Empathy plays a huge role in the leadership formula. It improves communication and flexibility. It leads to better teamwork.
When people are in sleep mode, you can find out how they got there and what their comfort zone is before you make any changes.
When there is too much talking without a decision, empathy helps you understand why you hesitate to make a decision. It also helps you understand why others don't want to take responsibility.
Lastly, empathy helps you dive into a lack of appreciation and trust in teams. All everyone wants is to be included. Through empathy, a dialogue can be opened, and improvements can be made.
Nice to have. But why should you care?
There is no one right way to lead.
But adopting thorough communication, flexibility, and empathy will prepare you well for any personal or professional situation. You will be less afraid of communication. Your mind will be more open to new ideas, and you will show that you care deeply about others. This will support psychological safety.
The result of focusing on this leadership formula is that you build trust and become more agile. At the end of the day, these are the keys to successful growth and a comfortable workplace.
Don’t look at leadership as a corporate buzzword. Break it down into specific skills. It will be much easier for your development and for making a plan for 2023.
The answer is you. Be ahead of the game.
Whenever you're ready, there are 2 ways I can help you:
→ Work with me 1:1: Become better at communication and achieving your career goals.
→ Be-spoke leadership training for your team: Improve teamwork and communication between individual leaders and team members.