New Leadership – The Way it Always Should Have Been

As an organizational psychologist I’m fascinated with the way leadership has changed over the years. It’s not status or hierarchy that makes you the leader of a team anymore. It is facilitating your people to grow. More and more companies want their executives to be servant leaders. Leaders who help employees flourish instead of telling them what to do and how to do it. Leaders who are driven to support and facilitate others instead of taking the stage themselves.

Being a leader means being a coach. It is your job to support employees to do the best they can. And no, that’s not an easy job. Coaching comes in many shapes and forms, there is no such thing as a one size fits all approach. How to serve best depends on the needs and capabilities of the employees.

However, there is one thing that all people have in common: we can only learn new things when we step outside of our ‘comfort zones’. As the word says, this is an uncomfortable place. This experience can only be of value, when you have a secure base to return to. We need a safe place to reflect on the experience. If there is no secure base to return to, you are out of your comfort zone all the time. As you might be able to imagine, this will not bring you any good.

Stepping out of your comfort zone is like learning how to ride a bike, something my 4-year-old daughter is doing right now. The first time she got on, she was scared to fall. So, as a parent, I comforted her and held the bike while she was riding it. Every try I took away a little bit of the support, still staying in close proximity in case she lost control. Once able to ride by herself, I ran next to her bike to show her I would be there to catch her if necessary. I helped her to find the confidence in herself to do it on her own. Now, she doesn’t need me close by anymore. However, I’m still within arm’s length to pick her up in case she falls.

As a leader, you are responsible for creating this secure base for your employees. They need to explore on their own, growing autonomy and learning new things. But if you are not there to support them and pass out the band Aids when needed, they will either experience high levels of stress or never leave their comfort zone at all.

Article written by Marijn Pietersen-Jonker, CFR Global Executive Search The Netherlands
Photo source: Pixabay

Share this article: