hi there, and a very warm welcome to Season five, episode 32 of Peoples Soup. It's Ross McIntosh here, pea Soupers. It's a bit different this week.
It's a solo episode, a cup of soup if you like. What I want to do is build on the idea I shared earlier this year about having a separate sister podcast of PeopleSoup for leaders. one where they can tune in and really hear about bite sized practical skills that they can use to develop and evolve their own authentic leadership style.
So I wanted to present my emerging idea to you all and hopefully get your views.
So think of this as a kind of,
discussion paper if you like. I'd love to get your ideas and views on how ACT can support the development and evolution of authentic leadership.
so I've called the episode Act and Authentic Leadership FM. And Authentic Leadership FM is the new holding name for what will perhaps be a spin off podcast.
So before I get too giddy about having a spin off podcast, let me just welcome those who are perhaps listening for the first time. PeopleSoup is an award winning podcast where we share evidence based behavioral science in a way that's practical, accessible, and fun.
What we're doing at PeopleSoup is unlocking workplace potential with expert perspectives from contextual behavioral science.
So for those of you expecting the news desk right now, it will be back next week. but for now, get a brew on and let me present
Act and Authentic Leadership FM 📍
So people talk about authentic leadership a lot. Bringing your whole self to work is something I hear quite a lot. And then when someone does bring their whole, complicated, messy self to work, people say Hell no, I didn't mean that. so I've been looking at the work of Dr. Fiona, Beddows Jones, where she conceptualized authentic leadership, and I'll no doubt come back to that in a future episode. But Fiona's book, Divided by Gender, United by Chocolate, Differences in the Boardroom, is well worth a read
So I'll put a link to Fiona's work and also a summary sketchnote from Dr. Haley Lewis, friend of People Soup, to the show notes.
So, the big question I guess is how can the cultivation of psychological flexibility support the development of authentic leadership? So that's my mission in this mini episode and I've been giving it lots of thought. I'm going to have a go at presenting psychological flexibility in a compelling way to meet leaders where they are and support the development of their awareness, their adaptability, And their authentic action whilst growing and maintaining their psychological well being.
Now I work with a lot of leaders and I work with a lot of other people who also work with leaders. If I had one word to describe the leadership environment at the moment, I'd say relentless. It can leave leaders feeling depleted, depleted of energy and resources. This means that they can miss perspectives, opportunities, connections, and end up feeling frustrated. confused and perhaps exhausted. They may have this niggling sense that something's not quite right, but not have the time to actually pause and think what the heck's going on. they might also be impacted by comparisonitis, comparing themselves with others on the board or the senior leadership team, and typically finding themselves lacking.
Some leaders might be tempted to get some clarity by trying to kind of force themselves into a leadership model or a way of being.
And in my experience, and the people I work with, that can sometimes feel, a bit restrictive and cramped and at worst feeling trapped. Others might try to emulate a guru. Now there's different ways we can emulate a guru or a role model. One is looking at the behaviors they bring to what they do, and I think that is great.
But the one where we look at a guru and try to emulate their sort of daily routine, like they get up at five. After sleeping in an oxygen tent, eat some egg whites and then meditate for an hour before running 10 miles to work.
Emulating that in the hope that we'll turn into the guru I don't think is a very productive route.
so what's the first step in building this psychological flexibility to support our authentic leadership? Well in my view, it's the pause. Over time we might develop macro pauses and micro pauses. A macro pause could be a reflection and a review of your leadership style.
what matters to you as a leader? How would you really like to be? In the context or the role that you find yourself in. A micro pause, something that takes more practice, is a pause in the moment.
in a micropause we might be thinking in the circumstances in which I find myself how do I want to show up to have maximum impact. In the macropause we might be reflecting on what we're role modeling for those people around us. you might have heard me talk before about my view that leaders are on the organizational catwalk.
People are looking to leaders for cues on how to behave, how to communicate, how to respond in a crisis. And we know that one of the most effective ways for humans to learn is through observing others. So there's that idea of a starting point of the pause, a macro pause or a micro pause.
And let's be clear, taking that pause might not feel comfortable. It might be something we keep delaying or putting off. It might be easier just to crack on, Which is why leaders often benefit from the support of another person, like a coach.
So imagine I'm talking to you as a leader and we're on a macro pause. Where we're looking to cultivate awareness, adaptability, And authentic action. So let's look at those one by one.
starting with awareness.
So as a leader, perhaps in calmer times, or perhaps when it's more turbulent and relentless, we can sometimes miss out on what's going on around us. In our environment, our team, or the organization as a whole. we can sometimes be caught up inside our heads, which means we might miss out on cues, opportunities, threats, all sorts of stuff.
We also might not be aware of how we're showing up. We all develop ways of being as a leader, habits that perhaps once served us well, and now are less useful and impactful. In fact, they might be damaging our relationships. And if we're not aware of how we're showing up, we can miss out on the opportunity to be the best version of ourselves.
Of equal and fundamental importance for you as a leader is being aware of your energy.
And we don't have infinite supplies of energy. And if our energy is depleted, we start to lose the capacity to operate as the best version of ourselves. So what are you doing to recharge as a leader? what you do outside of work is an essential component of your recovery.
It's part of honing your own leadership instrument.
There's another side to awareness and that's becoming aware of the stuff going on between our ears. sometimes we'll be captivated by that stuff our minds produce.
Those thoughts, emotions, memories, sensations and urges and sometimes that's not useful.
If we're having a bout of comparisonitis we might look at others and find ourselves lacking. We might be waiting to be found out, and if thoughts like that are a prominent guide to our action, the way we'll show up is typically not the way we'd most like to be. So, if we're unaware of that unhelpful stuff, it can really impact on the way we show up, how we behave, and we'd typically be behaving in a way that we might not be that proud of. For example, if I'm finding myself lacking, I might show up as someone who's a bit ratty and tense, which could also seep into my life outside of work.
In this moment of pause and awareness, we can shine a light on that unhelpful stuff. and as a previous guest on People's Soup said, Awareness is curative. and that was from Andrew Sewell, who wrote The Overthinkers Guide to Life.
But the beauty of this awareness is that we can develop skills to change our relationship with that unhelpful stuff that our minds produce so it doesn't become as debilitating or energy sapping.
So let's look at adaptability. Can we flex to be the best authentic version of ourselves, given the environment we find ourselves in? In any leadership day, we might go from a meeting with the boss, to a whole team meeting, to a stakeholder engagement, or perhaps a pitch for new work.
There are many different hats a leader has to wear throughout the day. So the more we build our awareness, The more we can then make a choice and adapt. How would I like to show up in this next meeting? Some of this could be in preparation for a meeting, or some could be a micropause in that moment, adjusting the way we're showing up to reflect changing circumstances, perhaps live in a meeting.
When a new piece of data or a new perspective is brought into the mix.
And then finally... Authentic action. in our macro pause, how do we want to be as a leader? How would we like to impact on others? Role model for others? What's fundamentally important for you? Because if we take a macro pause and reflect on these things that matter, maybe qualities like honesty, courage, kindness, or vision might show up.
You will have your own unique blend of these qualities, these personal values, that can be used as a guide for our authentic action, our decisions, and just the way we show up as a leader. This is why I think the beauty of ACT is that it allows us to flex and adapt to all those different leadership challenges we face.
And of course, there are obstacles to authentic action. as I've mentioned in awareness, When we're gripped by that unhelpful stuff the mind generates to keep us safe, we tend to show up in a way that's less authentic, considered, and consistent.
SO that's me folks, setting out my stall for authentic leadership. So we start with the pause, whether it's a macro or a micro pause. Then we focus on developing skills to cultivate our awareness, our adaptability, and our authentic action. And as I said at the beginning, consider this to be a discussion paper, and if anyone would like to discuss it with me, I'd be delighted to jump on a call.
If I can support you as a leader, or a group of leaders, then please do get in touch.
This approach has evolved from my work with hundreds of leaders where I've been designing and delivering interventions and coaching based upon ACT.
📍 So pea soupers, that's it. This little cuppa soup. Actant Authentic Leadership FM is in the bag. Thank you so much for listening. I really appreciate your support. And me and producer Emma have some fresh ideas brewing too, for new episodes coming up As well as our ever expanding range of fabulous guests.
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Thanks to Andy Glenn for his spoon magic and Alex Engelberg for his vocals. Most of all, dear listener, thanks to you. Look after yourselves, peace supers, and bye for now. And then when someone does bring their whole, complicated, messy self to work, people say Hell no, I didn't mean that