What kind of person instantly comes to mind when you visualise a strong leader? Don’t think too deeply about it, just the first thought.
Is it a man? Maybe they’re slightly intimidating? Chances are a good percentage of you will have some version of this image.
We’ve probably all come across this type of leader in our career, hell, they’re even running our country (but let’s leave that train of thought for another time!).
Experiences over the years have formed our opinions and biases, creating a rigid and as many would say, outdated, spin on the role of ‘the boss’. The thing is, a boss isn’t necessarily a good leader, and a leader doesn’t have to be a boss.
What’s exciting about this realisation – and society’s increasingly sophisticated expectations around modern leadership – is that as women, we are brilliantly placed to leverage the evolution.
What does modern leadership look like?
Recently at Step Up we’ve been exploring the importance of empathy as a key trait in modern leadership. Expressing empathy can take many forms in the workplace, showing vulnerability, valuing participation, an awareness of different perspectives, making time to listen and understanding and elevating others’ points of view.
These qualities show strength through a fresh, new leadership prism; embracing and encouraging the strength of the team rather using leadership as a power asset. Modern leadership is about inspiring others and helping them rise – and even better, we can do this at any professional level. Like I said at the top, a leader does not need to be the boss. We lead by our actions, not by our status.
Indeed, the largest demographic in the workplace – millennials – have new expectations of leadership that feed into this revolution. Valuing communication, relationship building and peer-to-peer empowerment, they are influencing leadership styles from every angle, and it’s great news for us all.
At a time when the whole world is united in challenge, this type of empathetic-led leadership, the one that recognises and supports, has proven to be game-changing for remote teams who feel isolated on every front. Has Covid-19 been an unexpected driving force in moving us all closer to a more modern ideal of leadership? Perhaps. What’s important though is that you recognise your own leadership qualities and that you use them to positive ends. Don’t feel because your team is small, or you work alone that you can’t have influence. Leadership today is on a peer-to-peer basis, showing others that they’re valued and boosting your own confidence in the process.
Today’s workforce demands modern leadership and equality on all fronts needs it, so why not try connecting in a deeper way with the people you work with, showing your vulnerabilities to encourage their psychological safety, because by trusting in others and having others trust in you, we can all work in a more positive and nourishing way. And who doesn’t need that right now?