Expert advice on Business Leadership and tips on becoming a more effective Leader.

The Heart and Soul of Leadership By Ava Diamond

What if you had the opportunity to be the best leader your people ever had? Are you willing to step up to that challenge? Often, all it takes to go from being a good leader to being an amazing leader is a mindset shift and a few new skills.

So I’m going to ask you a few questions. And remember, there are always two answers to any question: the one that sounds good, and the one that’s true. Take a moment to dive beneath the surface to find the one that’s really true.

5 Questions to Ponder and Get Gut-wrenchingly Honest About

1. What’s in your heart and your soul?

Why do you want to lead? Do you really have a passion for helping others grow and develop and reach their full potential? What really is your motivation?

The answers to these questions will enable you to lead with authenticity from the deepest part of your being.

The temptation now is to keep reading. But stop for a moment. Go back and spend some time with these questions before moving on. Marinate in them. Know your deepest truth.

2. Were you put in your position because of your leadership skills, or because you were good at the job you were promoted from?

There’s a wonderful New Yorker cartoon by Leo Cullum. Two businessmen are sitting at a bar. One says to the other, “Then I made the leap from skilled labor to unskilled management.”

If this has happened to you, commit to your own growth.

Be passionately committed to becoming an effective leader for your people. We’re never done learning. Keep a focus on your own development as a leader.

3. Can you engage people in a vision of a better future?

The best leaders I know are great artists. They can paint the vision of where they’re headed so vividly that their people can feel it and can imagine themselves in it.

In one of my workshops, I give groups of leaders puzzles to put together, without giving them the box with the picture on it. Their frustration builds as they try to put it together, because they can’t see the big picture.

So it is with your people. They need the vision of the future. They need the big picture. They need to know how what they’re doing fits into the overall strategy, and how it moves your organization to its desired future. As leaders, we need to align purpose and people.

4. Are you making it about you? Or do you really believe, deep in your heart, that it’s about them?

Do you know what really matters to each of your people? Do you know what their dreams are?

In today’s world, we need to really know our people and to customize our leadership for each person. We need to know their strengths, their communication, thinking, and learning styles, what gets them fired up and motivated. We need to tap into their best and inspire them to contribute it to the organization.

You may be thinking, “I don’t have time for all that…I have real work to do!” But in truth, that is your work. Leveraging the talent and potential of your people is what leadership is all about. It’s where you can make your biggest contribution. It makes a difference to them, to you, and to your organization.

5. Are you willing to rock the status quo, to step out of your comfort zone, and be creative and innovative?

When we step out of our comfort zone, we land squarely in our learning zone. We need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. The speed and velocity of change today require that we sometimes operated in the unknown. We are facing new challenges in unprecedented times. We can’t rely on “the way we’ve always done it.”

IBM published a new study this month of more than 1500 CEOs from 60 countries and 33 industries worldwide. They found that CEOs believe that the most important trait that leaders need in order to navigate this increasingly complex world is creativity. They found that leaders need to be able to:

* invite disruptive innovation and encourage others to drop outdated approaches
* become comfortable with ambiguity and experimentation
* be creative and visionary enough to make decisions that alter the status quo

Are you ready to operate in this way?

The Choice Point

So there you have it. 5 Questions.

You can read this article, say, “That was interesting,” and move on to the next item on your “to-do” list. Or you can really spend time with each of these questions, use them as a catalyst for your own reflection and growth, and become the best leader your people ever had. The choice is yours.

In the comments section, please share your own tips for leading from your heart and your soul. Tell us about the difference it’s made for you and your people.
Ava Diamond works with organizations to leverage the talent and potential of their people. You can learn more about her at and at . Follow her on twitter: @feistywoman

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