360 Degree Aspirational Coaching – What the World Needs Now

Deconstructing Jacinda Ardern, Angela Merkel and Pope Francis

As we look out at the current leadership landscape, those three people (even if you disagree with some of their policy decisions) seem at least to us to embody what it means to be the leader we need for these challenging times.

There are a number more that could also be mentioned and we would ask you to think of those leaders you know who are less well known to apply the following criteria to and then to please weigh in on things you would add, subtract or modify in your comments.

We’ve turned those criterial into a process we’ve developed called 360 Degree Aspirational Executive Coaching.

This is different from some of the current 360 degree executive coaching which seeks to improve a high performing, high potential executive by giving him or her feedback for correcting counterproductive if not destructive behaviors as judged by stakeholders.

Rather than having executive coaching assigned to people who may need it, but not want it, when they hear about this, high performing, high potential leaders – who are often following a calling – seek this out because they want to be the best they can be as a leader.

In essence they want to become the leader they would like to have.

It involves “aspiring” to be a leader that engenders in others the following experiences:

  1. Trust: We trust him or her to do what they say they’ll do.
  2. Confidence: We feel confidence in them because they have a track record of making good judgment calls and decisions, getting things done, and that they can and will get things done when in their leadership position.
  3. Safety: We feel safe with them at the top and that under their watch, nobody will be bullied, thrown under the bus and we are not afraid to work for them because of their personality.
  4. Respect: We respect them for their integrity and standing for and standing up for a noble mission and for standing up against greedy, devious, selfish or self-serving people who attempt to detract, distract or derail them from fulfilling their mission.
  5. Admiration: We admire them for how they stand for and stand up against anything or anyone that would detract from, distract from or derail that mission. They have an understated formidability that radiates from them without their having to beat their chests or resort to gratuitous and injurious hyperbole.
  6. Likability: We like them for being enjoyable and enjoying of others, for having a sense of humor and not taking themselves too seriously.
  7. Inspiration: We are inspired by them because of having all of the prior attributes and because they both motivate, pump us up and inspire and lift us up. They give us hope.

When you become such a leader, you not only motivate, but you inspire your people and everyone who is lucky enough to know you. That is because your esteem for them is so important to them and the last thing they would want to do is disappoint you.

Becoming someone other people want to honor will keep them motivated much longer than their doing something our of fear or guilt. We like to call it using a “carrot on steroids” rather than the stick.

If you disagree with the above, how much would you want to follow a leader who triggers distrust instead of trust, doubt instead of confidence, fear instead of safety, disappointment instead of respect, embarrassment instead of admiration, and discouragement instead of inspiration? You might do it for a short period out of fear, but unless abuse is a long term motivator, you’d probably soon lose your willingness.

To quote Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” especially when you offend, insult, degrade or humiliate them.

How do you become a leader that causes your people to feel the above seven feelings? What would cause me to feel those feelings is when I observe the following seven consistent behavioral attributes:

  1. Unflappable: They are quietly formidable and mission centric vs. having personal ego invested in or losing. That mission has to serve all the people they represent. By not ever taking anything personally because they are so mission centric, they never need to act defensively, sullen or reactive in any way.
  2. Present: They communicate heartfelt understanding and are compassionate towards the fear, hurt, insecurity and anger of others so that people feel cared about. However, they remain steadfast in accomplishing the main mission and are able to respectfully but deftly deal with anyone whose personal and selfish agenda might derail that commitment.
  3. Takes charge: Without being controlling they take charge which is based on deeply held values and because of that, people are not afraid of each other.
  4. Knowledgeable: They know what they’re talking about vs. giving pat answers that lack conviction or credibility or worse, shooting from the hip.
  5. Wise: They know what’s important and worth fighting for and what’s less important and not worth fighting for. Their judgment calls and decisions are guided by that wisdom based on experience, knowledge and perspective.
  6. Gracious: They always give credit first to the team that made it happen and always personally take responsibility when something backfires on their watch.
  7. Humble: They are humble by feeling honored, dedicated and duty bound by the responsibility of fulfilling a mission that serves the company and all its stakeholders. They are aspirational – always striving to become even better – rather than personally ambitious – always looking out for what’s personally in it for them. You’d be hard pressed to find any of this contaminated by selfish, self-serving ego. They appear to be driven by a calling rather than a personal agenda.

As with the seven prior feelings, if you don’t think these behavioral attributes are important, consider what they do to your trust, confidence, respect, admiration, liking and feeling Inspired when you see someone being thin skinned instead of unflappable, shut down or attacking instead of being present, abdicating their authority instead of taking charge, full of hot air instead of knowledgeable, foolish/clueless instead of being wise, gloating/mean spirited instead of gracious or self-centered/arrogant instead of humble.

To coach yourself, start every interaction with any person or group of people, one on one with your intention to manifest the seven behaviors and then afterwards rate yourself on how well you manifested those behaviors from 1 (least) to 10 (most). Then pause – no beating up on yourself allowed – and think of what you could have done differently to increase your rating.

Make a note of it so that you have a reminder to try that in your next interaction.

To reinforce these aspirations, reach out to several stakeholders from your work and home and tell them: “I’m committing myself to a program of becoming someone I would want to be as both a leader and a person. Here are seven feelings I want to cause people, including you, to feel towards me and here are seven ways in which I am proposing to act to become that person. If you’re willing, I would like to check in with you every month to see what you’ve noticed in my trying to act in those ways and also offer any tips to do them better.”

You might say that we’re talking about leadership unicorns to be a 7×7 leader, but they’re out there. And there are people who want to become one.

Could one of them be you?

Why not?

What the World Needs Now are Leaders

What the world needs now are leaders, great leaders,
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of

What the world needs now are leaders, great leaders,
No, not just for some but for everyone.

Lord, we don’t need another moron,
There are problems and crises enough to solve
There are divisions and conflicts enough to mend,
Enough to last, till the end of time.

What the world needs now are leaders, great leaders,
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.
What the world needs now are leaders, great leaders,
No, not just for some but for everyone.

Lord, we don’t need another villain
There is fear and hatred enough to end
There are opportunities and possibilities enough to seize
Oh listen, lord, if you want to know.

What the world needs now are leaders, great leaders,
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of

What the world needs now are leaders, great leaders,
No, not just for some but for everyone.

No, not just for some,

Oh, but just for everyone.

(adapted from What the World Needs Now Is Love by Bacharach and David)

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