Defining Leadership

If we want to develop leaders, we need to be clear about what we mean by leader. What makes a leader? It is a question that has been studied for decades but not well answered. Based on my experience, leadership begins with character, develops as intention, and presents as a desire to help others.— hk

Character of a Leader

Leadership is a set of qualities and characteristics formed within each of us and practiced in group and organizational settings. An ideal leader is well balanced and has developed a diverse portfolio of qualities and characteristics.

  • personal awareness, people skills, communications skills, and a love for learning

  • knowledge in organizational design & culture, business, systems thinking, and other fields

  • poise and framing these qualities & characteristics in confidence, humility, and wisdom.

Our leadership model defines 24 qualities and characteristics that guide the development of a person and their potential to lead. With this foundation in place, anyone can lead an organization or initiative, develop a shared vision, create strategies as a path to get there, develop a following, and execute. To help leaders develop a balanced approach involves awareness, change, and a progression of learning toward wisdom. It involves internal change. Real change takes a willingness to see each person, each issue, and each moment freshly, and to challenge our own assumptions about virtually everything.

As part of my own personal development, I practice Zen. In Zen, this way of seeing things is referred to as "beginner's mind", seeing the world with fresh eyes and seeing people in the present moment rather than seeing them as their old stories based in the past. Like the path of Zen, developing leadership qualities is a practice, something you do every day, mindfully paying attention to your thoughts and behaviors and how they affect you and others. To practice Zen is to live each moment with beginner’s mind, innocent and open, curious, seeing just what is there. To practice leadership is no different.

If your mind is clear, it is always ready and open to anything. "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's, few" ― Shunryu Suzuki. Once we believe we are an expert at anything, we’ve closed our mind to new information. We’re no longer tuned in, listening, observing, for anything new that we may learn.

Leadership begins with character, develops as intention, and presents as a desire to help others become leaders.

Here at Mindshift Consulting, we bring all of this together in a leadership model based on developing qualities of leadership. We offer individual leadership plans that include an assessment, learning strategy, and coaching. Our leadership development programs help leaders see themselves and their organizations differently. [Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash].

We offer the learning areas listed below, as well as individually tailored plans based on an assessment and supported by coaching. In addition, we offer leaders learning topics such as media/analyst relations, leadership positioning for the organization, and others.

  • communicating effectively

  • emotional intelligence

  • building your personal brand

  • self awareness

  • mindfulness practice

  • qualities of leadership

  • building dynamic teams

  • systems thinking

  • interpersonal relations

  • organizational culture

As former MIT professor and foundational thought leader Edgar Schein said about organizations: leadership and culture are two sides of the same coin. An organization is a reflection of the values and beliefs of its leadership and its members. We know that the degree of congruency between the values and beliefs of an organization's leaders and of its members, correlates with the power of an organization’s culture. The more they differ, the more cultural dissonance and the less productivity. Our leadership programs include learning about organizational culture.

At Mindshift, our work with leaders involves individual development, restoring perspective and renewing energy, understanding the context and interdependencies of organizational change, designing vibrant cultures and shared futures, and examining underlying beliefs and assumptions. We offer team-based leadership experiences and individual coaching. Our process helps leaders develop personal and cultural awareness, skills in human relations and communications, and strategic insights.

Hans Kuendig, PhD, Organizational Psychologist

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