Last month was special, as I travelled all the way up to Toronto to attend the annual conference organised by my friends, Achievers. With a theme as open as “change the way you work”, you can expect nothing less than massive leadership insights!
And it started right in the opening keynote:
“Change is organic. Remove friction so that you are empowered to act.”
It is quite a powerful statement. But what do you need to trigger inner change if you find it challenging to shake things up?
This was exactly what the whole conference was about!
Change begins inside yourself, as soon as you commit to do things differently. That’s why paying attention to your inner leader is no waste of energy.
Here’s what you need to trigger inner change.
Plant a seed for self-awareness
If your best leader resides in your inner world, how can you trigger inner change by inviting her into your day-to-day more often?
Peter Weng discussed self awareness at length with us. Originally part of Google’s mindfulness programme, he explained that the science of meditation is clear. Only a few minutes of mindful activities each day can improve focus and reduce stress. And when you know that 70% of leaders struggle with being attentive in meetings, learning to focus better is not an option. It’s a necessity.
Self awareness is as simple as pausing to do an inner check. Can you observe your emotional or behavioural patterns? Would self awareness bring a different quality into your relationships?
An easy way to start is the three breaths exercise. In less than 10 seconds – say, in between two meetings – you can shift your emotional space. Powerful, right?
Follow up with social awareness
Emotional intelligence is the best asset for a team. For leaders, it’s their most powerful asset.
Bobi Seredich, Co-Founder of the Southwest Institute for Emotional Intelligence, led us through a powerful exercise to showcase the importance of emotional intelligence for any of us.
I encourage you to try it. Take one of your favourite bosses or mentors. Describe her or him with just one word.
Result? You went for one of her/his emotional intelligence qualities, right?
And most likely, your word was about their heart or their edge.
Now, what about you? How would you like to be described? What are your heart and edge qualities? How can use them to trigger inner change and adapt your leadership style?
Conversations can trigger inner change
Everyone has the ability to influence. You don’t need a title or a role to make an impact. Just a genuine connection with your interlocutor is enough to build a positive relationship.
How? Language and conversations.
Effective communication is a vast topic. I will dedicate a post to it in a couple of weeks (if you don’t want to miss it, sign up for the newsletter right below and grab your free copy of the “Confident Leader e-book”).
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For today, I’d like to stick to one fascinating fact about active listening that I learnt from Journalist Celeste Headlee.
According to neuroscience, what makes communication effective is empathy. And what can boost empathy is to listen with full attention. Listening enhances neural coupling (when your brain waves align to those of the person you’re conversing with). Practically speaking, you listening actively teaches the other person to listen more next time they’re in a conversation.
The simple passive act of listening to someone else can trigger inner change. It brings back the art of great conversation. That is something, right?
How to create your own future
One valid reason to trigger inner change is that the outer world is changing fast and deeply.
But if the world becomes increasingly automated and digital, positive social interactions remain the only way to stay relevant. Because, ultimately, any work you do is about people.
As Brian David Johnson, futurist in residence at Arizona State University puts it…
Only you can shape the future you’re going to live in. And it doesn’t require massive technology. Only you need to change the story you tell yourself and trigger inner change first.
See, any action will find its impact in the future. So question your intentions now. Why are you doing what you do? What are you optimising for? What do you hope to get out of it? And what could introduce bias in the process?
As you execute your vision, make what you do better and eliminate what could derail your plans. That’s how you take your future into your own hands.
You probably know that my mantra is “Before your can lead others, you need to lead yourself”.
Tiffany Dufu (named to Fast Company’s League of Extraordinary Women), told us in her closing keynote that the most powerful change agent in your life is yourself.
So put purpose first. Access your inner space, because it’s your inner change engine.
Then expand your leadership boundaries. Widely.