Many strive to be a meaningful leader. Establishing and maintaining significance in leadership is one potential tool to foster employee’s motivation and attachment to their teams and their work. When authentic, the consequences of meaningful leadership can be seen in an ability to drive high performing teams, mindset changes, behavior adaptation, engagement, steer purpose-driven changes, and support individuals to find significance in the work they perform.
The multidimensional concept of meaningful leadership as we understand it today, began to appear and to be discussed by philosophers and thought leaders as part of the changes in post-industrial society along with the major transformations in work and the corresponding social relationships. Around the 1950's the debate focused around the importance of results-based work and 'command-control based' relationships, which still tends to remain as the dominant model of leadership prevalent in many organization today. It has however evolved into a range of different kinds of competing and complementary leadership theories which have evolved to increasingly value personal beliefs and significance to the impact the work represents in people’s lives and on individuals and teams.
How can leadership influence the amount of meaning people find in their work? And which consequences of leadership can shape their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors…? Such questions have intrigued academics for decades. It continues to be a topic highly researched given its importance and potential impact on business performance.
That is why Hyper Island invites you to undertake a personal reflection: What is the MEANING of leadership for you? Do you identify with leadership as a tool for control or as key to unlocking more collaborative processes?
Contemporary leadership styles require leaders to ‘design and facilitate’ the processes of work towards new meanings as a result of purpose-driven and authentic leadership styles, instead of traditional command and control relations. The new normal in leadership requires guidance, humility, creativity and collaboration, characteristics which are often easier easier to aspire to than to achieve, but which when evident can significantly impact a team's performance.
A leader is increasingly expected to build an environment based on full COLLABORATION, which lies on PURPOSE and MEANING from a congruence of factors related to shared general beliefs, values, and attitudes. This can help lead teams to truly open up to explore and learn, accepting more than one answer and truth and an improved employee experience with greater significance of work.
This helps explain why Hyper Island's Future Leadership course aims to bring many of these concepts to life and help our participants from around the globe to put into practice a new leadership style, adaptable and flexible enough to survive the complexities of a constantly changing context, while continuing to be a meaningful leader to those around you.
We have collated here 4 precious tips to start working on a more collaborative leadership style today, and gradually evolve from a controller to a collaborator and as a result, a more productive future leader:
1. WORK ON YOUR PURPOSE & ENGAGEMENT: Evaluate what purpose really means to you, and start with your why. Purpose implies providing significance to a kind of work or job to be done, and is extremely close to the sense of meaning, being one of the mechanisms to generate a strong sense of meaningfulness in everyone, and a feeling of being worth and worthiness. Engaging in meaningfulness in working practices means that you change what you actually do, and engaging in meaningfulness at work practices will shape the context within which the work is performed.
2. WORK ON BUILDING TRUST: The environment your team is working in has to inspire trust and openness, driven by a culture of reciprocity. It is important that the team let flourish the ability of knowing and revealing their own self, without fears of negative consequences, as being blamed. A high performance team starts by an environment of psychological safety, which strongly contributes to meaningfulness and it impacts an individual's self-esteem.
3. BE AUTHENTIC & PRACTICE COLLABORATION: Authenticity can be defined as a sense of coherence and alignment between one’s behavior and perceptions of the self, and there is nothing more convincing than an authentic leader. To start, you can practice active listening, and open up to involve the team in every decision or every problem they bring in. You can return their questions to them, and ask how they would solve challenges, being open to every suggestion which might come up. You can also start to ask for feedback on a weekly basis, it is a way of sharing a vulnerable moment and start to connect with the team members in a more authentic way to build trust.
4. WORK ON TEAM’S ENGAGEMENT & RECOGNITION: We recommend you to start practicing recognition in your team. When and if individuals lack social recognition, it is difficult to maintain a positive self-relation essential to form a self-conception. A team can be more or less motivated, involved and feel trusted if they have an opportunity of being recognized throughout.
When adopting these measures one needs to be ready to practice them consistently. The transformation implied in here is a process, and not a one way journey. It shall be taken with time to transform the mindset and get others onboard with you.
Curious to know more? Discover our Future Leadership course, a 6-week online and interactive journey, starting on Nov 10th.
About the author
Fabiola is a passionate researcher of meaningful work and purpose, and also a speaker for female entrepreneurship and protagonism. She brings in more than 20 years of experience as an international marketing executive in France, Germany, Brazil, UAE, and now Canada, having occupied leading positions in Multinational companies in the Hygiene & Beauty sector - such as L’Oreal, Nivea, Reckitt. She got entrepreneur experience with hair products and has been leading multifunctional teams for Innovation and product development, with a strong focus on consumer-centric strategy. She is also a guest lecturer of organizational behavior for the master’s program at Fundação Dom Cabral and lecturer of international business cases for several universities.