Five things no one needs to remind us of the turbulent reality of today’s world. From the ongoing war in the Ukraine with the stability of Europe in question, to protests on our streets after the overturn of Roe v. Wade, to upcoming elections, to rising inflation, to… The list goes on.
Several months ago, I was asked by Sara Connell in Authority Magazine to describe the five things you need to be a highly effective leader during turbulent times. I want to share them again with you today.
Here are Five Things leaders need to be highly effective during turbulent times. This includes the four key concepts (or questions) in my Values Based Leadership Model © , plus an additional item – be willing to be surprised.
I teach this framework to business leaders so that they will create and write down their personal concept of their leadership. I call it the “third thing” or something written that we can point to that frames our leadership. During turbulent times, it is critical that we go back to the foundational elements of who we are and how we lead, adjusting as necessary along the way.
1. Who am I as a leader?
This is the first question in my conceptual framework. Leaders must take time to reflect. We develop and change as leaders over time, and it is critical at different points of our leadership journeys that we step back and ask ourselves this question. We are not the same leader we were as we started out. Early on in our careers our technical skills were highly important, then as we became more seasoned leaders our human and conceptual skills took priority. The first time I was selected for command, I took time to reflect. This was the first time in my career that I was completely responsible and accountable for the organization. As the first woman in the job, all eyes were on me. Would I succeed or would I fail? It was during a time of deep reflection that I began writing down my conceptual framework for my own leadership. So, I ask you as leaders, to take time to reflect as well. Start with this question, “Who am I as a leader?”
2. What do I value?
The next question involves values clarification. You probably know off the top of your head what you value but I bet you have never written it down. When I lead workshops, I ask this question and give my audiences two minutes to write down as many values as they can possibly think of as quickly as possible. The more I press them, the more they become surprised with what emerges. Ask yourself this question, “What do I value?” Take two minutes and write down the values that come to mind. Then take a few moments to identify the top three or four values you hold most closely. For me, I value truth, honesty, respect, and teamwork. What are yours?
3. What behaviors demonstrate my values?
Our values don’t necessarily change over time, but perhaps they become clearer. While it is important to write down and clearly articulate our values, this doesn’t go far enough. We must identify behaviors that demonstrate our values. Our teams look for the congruency between our values and our behaviors. Everyone knows hypocrisy when they see it. Our values inform our behaviors; however, our behaviors also demonstrate our values. There is a reflexive quality between behaviors and values. For example, we may say we value work-life balance. Certainly, in today’s (nearly post-COVID) environment, the lines between work and home are blurred. It feels like more of a juggling act than a balancing one. We can stay connected 24 hours a day, but where does work-life balance come in? Do you disconnect at a reasonable hour not sending out emails, texts, or tweets late at night or way too early in the morning? Sometimes it was difficult for me to disconnect at a reasonable hour, but I knew if I did not, I projected a loud message contrary to my values. What are you doing to align your values with your behavior?
4. What is my vision?
What I find to be true as we go through this Valued Based Leadership Model © is once we start to write down the answers to the first three questions in the model, our vision or renewed vision emerges. I review this model on a periodic basis and I encourage you to do the same. Nearly two years ago I did some deep reflecting once again. I had made my formal transition into education having rebranded myself with a doctorate in education from Vanderbilt. Going through my Values Based Leadership Model © helped me realize that my vision was larger than the work I was doing. I realized I wanted to influence more lives on a broader scale. Then, I got a call. Would you be willing to teach leadership at Vanderbilt? Of course, my answer was “Yes”. Today my vision is to develop the next generation of leaders. What is your vision?
5. Be willing to be surprised
My Values Based Leadership Model © is a cycle for reflection. One step informs the next step, and the cycle continues. If we ask ourselves these four questions throughout our leadership journey, we will develop an ever-deepening awareness of who we are as leaders and how we practice our leadership – a framework that will sustain us during turbulent times. So, take time to reflect and be willing to be surprised. Several years ago, I would have never envisioned getting a doctorate in education let alone teaching leadership at Vanderbilt. Leaving my last job also opened space to finish my book Flight Lessons which released this past February. Yes, I have been surprised for certain!
For the full details on my interview with Sara Connell, please visit this link: Captain Barbara Bell on the five thing you need to be a highly effective leader during turbulent times.
As always… Fly High!