Transforming Leadership: The 3 Basics

I believe that the greatest truths of the universe don’t lie outside, in the study of the stars and the planets. They lie deep within us, in the magnificence of our heart, mind, and soul. Until we understand what is within, we can’t understand what is without. —Anita Moorjani, Dying To Be Me

Row of daisiesThere is a lot of discussion in the news this week about leadership. Society expects a great deal from leaders who are in a position of authority, as we should. We want them to provide us with moral direction. We look outside ourselves to identify leadership weaknesses; and the truth is, we don’t have to look too hard. In my work with organizations, employees find it challenging to identify positive role models and examples of effective leadership in the workplace. It is more common, when asked for a positive example, for examples of ineffective leaders to be cited. Why is this? There are several contributing factors, but I believe that one factor is a disempowered mindset. Because we don’t often spend enough time looking within to identify our own strengths and weaknesses as a leader.

What do we expect from ourselves as leaders? How do we influence without authority? When do we take a stand? How do we listen to others with respect when their opinion is morally or ethically opposed to our own? When does another’s rights to freedom of speech cross our own boundary line? How do we lead when faced with differences that seem vast and insurmountable? Can we find our power without force or violence?

Learning to lead skillfully, artfully, and mindfully is paramount; if the conflicts in our homes, at work, in our communities, in politics, and in society as a whole are to find peaceful and productive resolution.

I have been delivering Leadership Basics for over ten years. The program was initially developed to answer questions, such as; What is leadership; How do I lead and influence without position; Who am I as a leader; What is the value in different leadership styles? In 1.5 days, the program raises these questions, and seeks to set each person on a quest to find the answers for themselves. And it’s a great starting place, but transforming leadership takes more than attending one workshop.

Leadership development is a life-long pursuit, that demands leaders to continually re-focus on Self-awareness, Interpersonal Relationships, while developing a Global Mindset. I challenge you to consider these questions:
• Where do I need to take a stand and positively influence an outcome?
• What skills will I need to lead, while communicating productively rather than destructively?
• What’s at stake if I don’t choose to lead?

Start your leadership journey today


Deb Siverson is an author and president of Xponents, Inc. Her book, “The Cycle of Transformation: Igniting Organizational Change through the Leader Coach”, encourages transparent and emotionally-connected conversations at work. Her company’s focus is to bring out the best in people by recognizing and aligning unique talent, values, and purpose.


How Do You Build Trust?

One at a time they spoke.  As each person in the circle shared the impact of the last several months, I felt the goose bumps rise up and warmth begin to radiate outward from somewhere in my core.  The first said, “I am working on taking special care each morning by dressing professionally to improve my self-confidence,” and the next, “I have to manage my optimism…I can be a model to others by having a positive attitude at work.”  One by one, they shared how they were stepping into a different relationship with themselves and each other until finally, a soft spoken man, who I had heard speak out on rare occasions over the past four months, shared the impact he had recently experienced with his son, a sweet story of sharing his heart and his concern.  “It is not my way to rock the boat…I step back instead of stepping into conflict. But what I’ve learned from this is that my son valued me sharing what I felt.  I had a conversation with my boss too…if I don’t say what’s on my mind, how can I be disappointed when things don’t turn out?”

shutterstock_182654306The conversation I just described happened after four, one-day sessions at monthly intervals on emotional intelligence skills, collaboration in partnerships, conflict resolution, and all of it culminated  in teaming to include designing agreements or what some call a team relationship contract.  A relationship contract is at the heart of how to build trust because it creates a structure to minimize assumptions and maximize all members expressing what they need from each other to work co-actively.  It is a way to intentionally practice relation management.

With the team members above, they were able to link team values, like respect, to an agreement of how they would communicate with each other.  Having the conversation about respect, including group members defining their perspective on what makes them feel disrespected, creates a vision of how the team will operate and how they will respond to each other when they let each other down.  Other examples of agreements the team set were; provide each other feedback, assume positive intent, and holding confidential all group discussions.

Discovering how others want to be communicated with, sharing your communication needs, and agreeing with where you must compromise takes time.  Ideally, we start new relationships by setting relationship ground rules, this is true for both work teams and managers with individual team members. We build trust by making and keeping commitments.  We redesign relationship contracts when we let each other down by perceived missed commitments or a signal that the relationship is ready to go to the next level.  We are always in the dance of designing relationships. The question is:  are we stepping all over our partner’s feet or are we moving in sync to the beat of our shared mission?

After listening to my soft spoken friend share his victory both at home with his son and at work with his boss I felt complete.  I will miss being in the presence of this courageous team who continues to amaze me with their courage, conviction, tenacity and willingness to step in the fire with each other over and over again for the sake of serving their customers.

Opportunity dances with those who are already on the dance floor.  -Jackson Browne

If you want to learn more about improving workplace relationships by designing team or coaching agreements, please contact me at 303-238-9733 or email me at [email protected].

If you like this blog, I think you will like my book The Cycle of Transformation. Available now!
HighResolution_Warnke_ DebSiverson20121208-9332-EditDeb Siverson is a seasoned executive coach, certified as a PCC through the International Coach Federation. If you want to schedule time to discuss how you or your organization can increase engagement by having a different conversation at work, contact us now.