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What the Eclipse Can Teach Leaders – Leadership Lessons from Our Solar Eclipse

Article Source: SmartBrief

Solar Eclipse

This week’s solar eclipse offered an opportunity to enjoy the awe of a rare natural phenomenon. As I watched our tiny moon obscure its outsized partner in the sky, things became very quiet. People paused. Mass undivided attention was shared by hundreds at our venue. Curiosity and wonder reigned for some time before, during, and after the sun’s light was overshadowed by a much smaller celestial body.

It was a profound experience of clarity and community – that can serve as a powerful metaphor for leaders in today’s organizations. Just as the moon can cast the world into momentary darkness, small acts of leadership can overshadow larger, entrenched practices, and in the process usher in more enlightened workplace dynamics.

When you strategically put something – a value or behavior – over or in front of another, you effectively eclipse it. If you want to create this kind of disproportionate effect on your team and your organization, consider these six leadership eclipses.

Asking over telling.

Given the pace and magnitude of change in business today, leaders cannot be expected to be the fount of all knowledge. Leaders who know they don’t have all the answers turn to questions instead. Actively and generously listening to others surfaces the information that’s needed to meet contemporary challenges and generate innovative solutions while inspiring trust, respect, and engagement.

Empathy over efficiency.

How frequently does the pursuit of productivity obscure the human element of leadership? While getting to know people, understanding who they are and their circumstances, and building genuine connections takes some time, it’s actually a highly effective efficiency hack. Empathic relationships promote well-being, engagement, and positive team dynamics – all of which make everything run more smoothly.

Growth over fixed mindset.

The traditional belief that abilities, intelligence, and talents are static traits inspires people to avoid risk and play it safe – which is the antithesis of what’s needed in today’s volatile and unpredictable environment.  But leaders who take small steps to make experimentation safe and teach that failure isn’t fatal, help employees develop curiosity, and confidence and turn mistakes into learning, leading to innovation and business results.

Intrinsic over extrinsic motivation.

It’s easy – even lazy – to rely upon external factors – things like promotions, money, and status – to motivate employees. Internal drivers are considerably more powerful and personal. Cultivating an environment that values competence, connection, and control allows employees to enjoy genuine fulfillment while unleashing a sustainable source of motivation that far surpasses what external rewards can accomplish.

Progress over results.

Achieving targets is vitally important to organizational success. But myopically focusing on the endgame fails to recognize the day-to-day effort and small wins that build toward it. Acknowledging progress is energizing and provides leaders regular opportunities to offer feedback and express appreciation – both of which fuel ongoing effort and results.

Development over titles.

Facilitating continuous learning and skills acquisition is eclipsing old models of career advancement with today’s workforce. Shrinking hierarchies, a fast-changing job market, and universal awareness of the need for upskilling and future-proofing careers conspire in a way that paints a new and different picture of what careers look like. The result is that people are prioritizing ongoing growth over promotions, positions, and moves – leading to greater engagement, retention, and results.

There won’t be another solar eclipse like we saw this week in the United States for another twenty years. Fortunately, leadership eclipses can be more frequent and nimbler since they don’t require the literal alignment of the earth and stars. They simply require that leaders choose constructive values and behaviors to bring forward. When it comes to leadership, small movements can cast large shadows capable of eclipsing the greatest challenges we face in business today and illuminating a brighter workplace.

This post originally appeared on SmartBrief.