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7 Keys to Being an Effective Leader: Part 2

Turning Breakdowns into Breakthroughs

Numbers tell the story, and measurement is the story of organizational performance. The ability to declare a breakdown when performance stagnates, declines or atrophies is a key element in raising your leadership effectiveness and making a positive impact in and on the organization. When you are intentional on what you are measuring and astute at how you measure, there are no real surprises and you are in touch with the pulse of your business. When the pulse is off course, stepping in and declaring a breakdown in a process or with a project is required. The courage to call it out, and the humility to point to what is not working within the system, frees people up to listen to the problem and contribute to an effective solution from the space of innovation and collaboration. When people experience that breakdowns occur and they feel safe to explore solutions, they drop the attachment to the reasons the breakdown happened in the first place. When the conversation does not swirl around the reasons and excuses for the failure, people within the human system open themselves up to participate in a solutions conversation without activating their defense mechanisms and referring to those unconscious biases blocking their ability to thoughtfully respond with insight and ideas.

Demonstrating the ability to measure, evaluate and bring attention to what is working and what is not working in the business from neutral ground paves the way for new levels of growth and development across the organization. More often than not, it is the hostility leaders show with regards to breakdowns that push people towards disengagement. Being a leader who regularly acknowledges breakthroughs in performance, operating behavior and critical thinking, as well as someone who consistently evaluates the system within the system, affords your followers the opportunity to live in the reality of the present moment. When people in the system live in reality and are encouraged to tell the truth about the performance of the system, declare breakdowns when necessary and solve organizational issues from neutral ground, transformation and breakthroughs happen.

Building Partnerships

Relationships are the way things get done in our world. People do business with people they like, with people who are pleasant and with people they trust. Whether you are operating with mostly external customers, or with a myriad of internal colleagues, it is the relationships you build that either make or break your effectiveness and determine the velocity at which you get things done. As part of your leadership training efforts, practice sharing your vision for yourself as a leader with those that you work most often with. Take the time to mend those fences you helped build as you pushed off relating to delegate, or in service of getting more work done. Rapport is the most important element of building trust with others in the system, and rapport is the first thing to go out the window when we are stringently focused on producing results. Let’s face it, getting things done works much better when cooperation and partnership are present. We all get more done in less time, the burden of the workload is shared and things get done faster when people are consciously using their best self for the work that pertains to them.

When trust is strong, communication is fluid and people operate in sync with one another. It all begins with taking time to connect, relate and get into another’s world. Once you are relating fluidly with others, people will more likely feel safe enough to engage in honest dialogue of how to strengthen partnership and co-working effectiveness. Staying curious and neutral in your leadership interactions will continue to pay dividends when it comes time to gain buy-in, elicit cooperation and move projects forward.

Strengthening Your Neuroplasticity Muscle

As with any physical conditioning, leadership training is not a one-time event. Developing your leadership competencies must be a long-term commitment and one that you are willing to invest in over the long term. Just like muscles get flabby when you stop using resistance to strengthen them, your thinking gets foggy and you lose sight of the prize when you cease developing yourself. In ancient yogic philosophy, the Vedics refer to samskaras; these are scars in our mind that keep us in a space of suffering and grasping. This same theory exists today in Neuroscience and Leadership principles.

We all have neuropathways in our brain, pathways that have been formulated long ago; some from inherited conversations and ancestral conditioning, and others from stories we told ourselves as we were developing our personalities. Something happened to us as we were on our journey and we needed to find a way to be with that external stimuli that made sense to our little self. The only rub with this is we are no longer a little self. We are grown adults and many of the ways we responded to stimuli at 15 were not effective then, and certainly are not effective now. To change the way we respond, we have to change the way we think. To change the way we think, we have to be willing to stay present to our thinking, feeling and reactionary mind. The five best ways to retrain your brain are through basic lifelong knowledge we all have, and rarely deploy in excellence. We need to get enough rest. Sleeping 7 hours per evening is optimal for the level of rest our brain requires to sweep out much of the useless nonsense that has seeped in during the day. A balanced nutrition sequence is required for optimal brain usage and left/right hemisphere integration. Frequent body movement and exercise enables our bodies to process nutrients and remain in a flow state. Fundamental chemicals are released into our body and brain required for us to feel well and recover from adversity. Enjoying the surprise and delight of something new is like Miracle Grow for the brain. Each and every time we allow ourselves the privilege of learning something new, we stretch our perspectives in life and develop new pathways in which to see and experience the world and the people in it. Mindfulness and the exploration of its many flavors is a favorite and very popular in our culture as a means to develop our neuroplasticity.

Fundamentally, mindfulness is about allowing ourselves to tune out all the noise plummeting on us on a daily basis and get quiet with our selves. Getting quiet allows for reflection, self-awareness, humility, affinity, and connection to occur. Whether or not you engage in exploring each of the five conduits for neuroplasticity, establishing a regular and consistent practice that allows you to strengthen your relationship with yourself and your goals is required for sustained leadership growth and development in the 21st century.

These are the 7 Keys to Being an Effective Leader, and the final and most important key is that it begins with you! You need to shift your mindset regarding your role, its purpose and what needs to take place for you to uplevel your leadership and ultimately transform your workplace culture. It’s about redefining your role, redefining your role value and taking the next steps in causing organizational cultural alignment.

It’s time to bridge the gap between your leadership vision and how you currently go about your everyday business. I invite you to get in action on beginning your leadership training journey by reaching out to trusted sources that could advise you on how to implement a leadership training and/or coaching program, and start to see differences in turnover, employee engagement, and workforce productivity. I look forward to hearing about your breakthroughs!

If you missed the first part of this article series, you can view the first 4 keys of being an effective leader here.


Magi Graziano, as seen on NBC, is the CEO of Conscious Hiring® and Development, a speaker, employee recruitment and engagement expert and author of The Wealth of Talent. Through her expansive knowledge and captivating presentations, Magi provides her customers with actionable, practical ideas to maximize their effectiveness and ability to create high-performing teams. With more than 20 years’ experience as a top producer in the Recruitment and Search industry, she empowers and enables leaders to bring transformational thinking to the day-to-day operation.


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