The Seismic Shift In Leadership
How To Thrive In A New Era Of Connection
by Michelle K. Johnston
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Pub Date 22 Feb 2022 | Archive Date 25 Jul 2022
Advantage Books, Advantage Media Group
THE OLD LEADERSHIP CHARACTERISTICS OF POWER, CONTROL, AND FEAR ARE BECOMING MORE AND MORE OBSOLETE.
Authenticity, compassion, and alignment are the new paths to leadership success. A leader's new power lies in their ability to connect. Whether you're the coach of a sports team, a nonprofit executive, the president of your family's business, or leading a small organization or a Fortune 500 company, the secret sauce lies in your ability to connect.
While leaders might consciously understand that connection is important, they don't necessarily know how or what to do. In The Seismic Shift in Leadership, author Dr. Michelle K. Johnston compiles her years of experience as an executive coach and business professor with the voices of eighteen leaders at large and small organizations across North America, South America, and Europe to empower you to project your authentic leadership style, to show compassion to your team, and to align yourself with your company.
“We are in a new era that requires leaders to be authentically connected with themselves, their teams, and their organizations. If you want meaningful results, you need meaningful connection. … We need to focus on creating a value for others that can be done only in productive collaboration. We need to focus on human connection. This book shows us how.”
—DR. OLEG KONOVALOV
Thinkers50; Author of The Vision Code: The da Vinci of Visionary Leadership
“We are living through unprecedented times that are calling upon all leaders to show up with authenticity, act with intention, and demonstrate the capacity to build relationships. Connection has replaced power as the currency of success. To lead in these challenging times, you must understand the strategies required to leverage it. The Seismic Shift in Leadership brilliantly shows you how.”
CEO, Purpose Linked Consulting; Author, The Purpose Linked Organization; 2021 Thought Leader of Distinction
“The Seismic Shift in Leadership is critical for leaders today as we move into a more digital and virtual working environment. … Michelle’s research, methodologies, and expert examples create the perfect blend to apply critical [communication] skills to your life. So read this book, apply it to your leadership, and watch the incredible results!”
Thinkers50 #1 Executive Coach; New York Times bestselling author, Triggers, Mojo, and What Got You Here Won’t Get You There
Average rating from 2 members
I got a digital galley of this book via Netgalley and really liked the book, The approach to take real life examples and stories from her clients to enumerate the key points on the shift in the leadership landscape is a really good approach. The stories are relatable and make the reading a fun exercise. By summarising the learning at the end of each chapter and posing a few questions for reflection, the author makes the learning deeper (if we go ahead and reflect on the questions).
Overall, the fundamental concept of connection before leading is not necessarily new, but the way the author has brought it out is new and novel.
Overall, it is a good book to read through, if nothing else but for the stories she presents from her clients.
This book talks about how leadership has changed from being about power to connection. It is divided into 3 parts: connecting with yourself, connecting with your team, and connecting with your organization. Each chapter has interviews with various leaders about how they run their teams, as well as a summary and questions for the reader to reflect on.
Before you can lead anyone else, you must first know yourself and be authentic. Johnston tells us we can do that by owning our own story, giving up perfection, and owning our communication style.
"Feeling shame and hiding parts of your life story create disconnection: disconnection with yourself and disconnection from others."
"If the story you tell yourself is negative, it affects how you interact with the world at large."
"Leaders who are very hard on themselves tend to be even more demanding of those they lead."
Johnston gives us an example of a woman who was a single mom and got through her own troubles, so she had the thought that if she could do it, so could anyone on her team. Being a leader is about lifting your team members up and helping them succeed, though, not seeing how much stress they can endure. It's like when you have a child and you want them to have a better childhood and life than you had, but instead she's saying that because she struggled, they should too.
"We all communicate differently. And to motivate their teams, leaders must figure out how to best connect with each team member. If you can't connect with someone at their level in a way that makes sense to them, then it doesn't matter how effectively you think you communicate."
I think it's important to consider introverts and extroverts in this respect. Introverts may have great ideas, but possibly do not like to speak up in front of everyone. Maybe schedule a one on one meeting with them where they can speak freely about how everything is going? Ask them how they prefer to communicate: email, phone, in person, etc.
Now that you're sure of who you are, you can start connecting with your team! We can do this through showing care and compassion for the whole person, listening to lead, and acting as a servant leader.
"You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you."
Have you ever had a friend who only talked about themselves the majority of the time? Never asked about you? I did. I would tell them about something great that happened to me, and they would brush it off with a general answer like "cool," and then immediately change the subject back to them. It's annoying, I know. Sometimes you just want someone to share in your successes. Get to know your team members and co-workers. Ask them about their lives, what they like, what they think. Engage in conversation.
"You make friends by listening to their stories, learning about and participating in their traditions, and ultimately showing care and compassion toward them as a whole person. You make friends by discovering and emphasizing what you have in common."
"...demonstrating that you are listening to their ideas. When leaders are thought of as 'good listeners,' their employees report feelings of belonging, togetherness, inclusion, and social significance."
It's great when you feel heard, like your opinion matters, like you could actually make a difference by speaking up.
"The first step to improving oneself is self-awareness."
"The second step is identifying the behaviors that are not working."
"The third step is to work on demonstrating positive listening behaviors including asking for others' opinions, not assuming you have the right answer, leaning in to the person you are speaking with, nodding your head, asking for follow-up questions, and displaying open body language."
"Servant leadership is based on helping others succeed. Rather than viewing yourself as the all-powerful leader in the highest position at the top of the organizational chart, you see yourself at the bottom of the chart in charge of lifting everyone else up."
When you lead, it becomes about helping others succeed, not about you anymore. Leaders should want to share their knowledge and actively encourage others to advance and seek new opportunities within the company. Some leaders may see their team members gaining too much knowledge as a threat, whether it be a threat to their own job, or the possibility that they may become too knowledgeable and choose to leave the company entirely in search of something better. All this does is make them just want to...well, leave the company in search of something better, though. This also happened to me. I once had a job where I felt like the manager was purposefully trying to keep me from learning too much so I wouldn't reach my full potential and ultimately leave for more money and a more fulfilling role. I left anyway because it was a dead end street.
Lastly, you can connect to your organization. In order to do so, you should personally align with your organization, create a positive culture, and own your calendar.
"Connection with the organization begins with aligning yourself with the organization's mission, vision, and values. You have to make sure you're in a place where you feel your strengths, personality, and style are accepted and where your personal goals and values are similar to that of the organization."
This is assuming that you know what they are even. I've worked at so many places where the only time you get to see their values and mission is when you first get hired there. Then they are never mentioned again. Most employees don't even know what they are, let alone if they are actually living them out daily. However, I've also worked for companies that had them painted right on the wall, or on pillars in their lobby, etc. for everyone to see and always be reminded. I have also left companies because I did not agree with choices that were made by those higher up, and therefore could not continue to be a part of it by working there.
"You can't lose sight that, as a leader, you are an ambassador for that brand. You need to be able to model the way and demonstrate leadership behaviors that represent the company as a whole."
Yes, you have to be a great example for your team and others.
The book closes by talking about how leaders have lead in times of crisis, specifically the COVID-19 pandemic. Communication is especially important in those times. Check in on your team members. Appreciate how hard they are working. Some of the leaders mentioned that they had to rethink how their business was being run and had to come up with more efficient ways to do things and how to cut down on anything unnecessary.
This is a great read for leaders who are looking for ways to be better, and the stories from other leaders show that there are companies out there who care for their people and want them to succeed.