So, what is the secret sauce when it comes to effective leadership? This is a tricky question to answer as there is no definitive right way to lead and no shortage of advice available that you can weed through. Just go on a trip to your local bookstore or visit Amazon, and you can quickly be immersed in a wealth of knowledge and perspective on the topic. While the ideas and strategies might seem valuable on the surface, it is critical to align each with the context in which you lead to determine practicality. Just because it sounds good doesn’t imply it will work for you. In many cases, you must find the style that works best for you while also being flexible that this might fluctuate based on the needs of those you serve or the initiative you are trying to move to scale.
I shared the following in Digital Leadership:
Leadership isn’t telling people what to do but instead taking them where they need to be.
The phrase above is what I feel epitomizes the equitable leader. There isn’t one blanket approach that has the magical ability to empower staff. Instead, it is all about a diversified strategy that works to meet both collective and individual needs. Minal Bopaiah and Jessica Zucal shared what people truly want from a leader:
They want an equitable leader. Someone who sees the system. Someone who is not tolerant of difference but rather so comfortable with it that they are willing to embrace it and make it a feature, not a bug of the workplace. They want someone who understands that great organizations encourage everyone to play to their strengths instead of insecurely asking everyone to fit into a mold of the “ideal” employee.
- Justify decisions using research and evidence
- Look through the lens of staff to better understand their point of view, overcome personal bias, and develop a more inclusive perspective
- Seek consensus whenever possible by involving others in the decision-making process to increase embracement
- Clearly communicate why, how, and what when it comes to change
- Show openness to other pathways, ideas, and strategies
- Offer unwavering support that is differentiated in areas such as time, resources, and professional learning
- Model expectations to illustrate a commitment to the change process
- Exhibit vulnerability by admitting mistakes or when they don’t know something
Equitable leadership is all about understanding the needs of those you serve in order to accomplish collective goals. It hinges on providing people with what they need, when and where they need it, to ensure success.