Deirdre Elphick-Moore has an honours degree in psychology and over 10 years of international experience in human capital management at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.
Co-founding The Office Coach in 2009, Deirdre now focuses on personal and workplace effectiveness training and development.
Deirdre spoke to Heavy Chef about the traits that modern leaders need in order to succeed.
The greatest leaders in history have been those with a simple message articulated in a way that inspired people to move in a particular direction. This remains a tenet of modern day leadership but as humans are bombarded with choices, distractions and options for mobility like never before, new approaches are needed.
A 2014 study of more than 330 000 people at all levels (conducted by leadership development consultants Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman) showed the following to be among the top 10 skills that managers need to succeed:
- Inspires and motivates others – champions change
- Displays high integrity and honesty
- Develops others
- Is driven by results or outcomes
Resilience is critical to leaders.
"Our research and experience shows that resilience is critical," says Elphick-Moore, "so we shall add that to Zenger and Folkman’s list to make up the top 5 skills modern leaders need to succeed."
These are not new themes, but ideas on how one achieves them are.
"What really drives me is helping business leaders focus on daily behaviours that lead to competency in these skills."
Elphick-Moore continues: "At the core of everything we teach leaders is a daily practice called mindfulness, an awareness of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and one’s surrounding environment. It is characterised by acceptance; attention to thoughts and feelings without judging whether they are right or wrong."
How much energy is wasted in judgement of what is going on around us, on things that are real, that exist whether we approve of them or not? The resilient leader needs to preserve his energy and cannot be drained by judgement.
The fast-track ticket to insight, is mindfulness.
Rather, he needs to recognise what is happening and understand why, so that he can move forward with purpose. If he understands the causes of accidents, conflict or failed projects, perhaps he can avoid them in the future. If he understands the consequences of his own behaviour, he can modify his behaviour in a way that will allow greater successes. All these require insight and the fast-track ticket to insight, is mindfulness.
With mindfulness and the insights it brings as a foundation, we can now talk about influence. All of us have the potential to be leaders.
Leaders does not come from titles or big offices. Rather, if stems from an innate ability to resonate with others, to touch the hearts and minds of people and to motivate them towards a new way of thinking and behaving.
This is what influence is.
An incredible example of this came from the creators of Pokémon Go. Their game is free to download, it uses technology that their target audience has in the palm of their hands, it connects them with people (albeit in a virtual world) and it is fun. But what sets it apart from other video games is that it gets people outside, walking around chasing binary creatures. Players are visible to everyone!
And therein lies the challenge for those who lead under pressure: the need to be seen in a way that resonates you with “your” people.