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Leadership is a process, it’s an art, says Alain Hunkins. What more are we neglecting as a leader? Do we have lessons from everyday life? Hunkins for sure focused on many of them at his visit on The xMonks Drive Podcast.
Enjoy the edited manuscript of the conversation here.
Gaurav: How would a person who is born and brought up in this kind of context, where he is not aware? What kind of impact would it have on himself and on the people around him?
Alain: Well, for one thing, I think if we’re born into this, and we don’t have the awareness and the context, it’s like you were saying good off is this sense of, I think there’s this inner perpetual motion to continue to go and drive and try to achieve something and to keep going. And the problem with that is, as you continue to try. You achieve whatever it was, for example, I graduated the top of my high school class, so I was what we call the valedictorian, and I do that, but it didn’t fill me up inside then it’s then it’s the next thing and then the next thing and I think for many people who are just striving, it’s like we get these achievements, but when we achieve them, it’s hollow weed.
We can celebrate it because we aren’t open to the full experience of feeling. So I think that’s one of the things that really gets in the way. And I think, you know, we all need to hit. My colleague Tasha, writes this in her book insight, which you might be familiar with, she talks about, one of the things around self awareness is that we have these alarm clock moments, right when the alarm clock goes off, and that it can be a wake up call and going, this isn’t working anymore. And some people have that from the inside. Some people get that from the outside. And I think that unless we get to this place where we go, this isn’t working anymore, will this keep going and going and going? And I think you know, for anyone who’s listening right now, just the fact that you’re listening right now means that you already are willing to consider pressing pause on the treadmill and reflect where am I getting to and why.
Gaurav: What is leadership according to you, and who is the leader?
Alain: For me, leadership is the performing arts and I’ll come back to the performing art in a moment. But leadership is the performing art of mobilising other people to willingly work that’s important willingly work towards them, achieving some shared purpose. So I share that definition. If I can break it down a little bit, I say that leadership is a performing art. Because ultimately it comes down to our behaviour. It’s what we say. And what we do. What I call the new school or new generation future leader is about. It’s about creating commitment. It’s not about compliance. So that’s why it’s got to be willing, how do we enrol and engage people in the process, and then achieve some kind of a shared purpose? So that to me is my working definition of leadership. And the question is, who’s the leader? Really, leadership is not a title. It’s not a position. It’s not something you get promoted into. Leadership is a way of being and operating the world because anytime that any of us are trying to influence anyone to do anything that takes leadership, and frankly, it doesn’t even have to be with someone else. It can be just leading ourselves if we’re trying to get somewhere.
We’re leaders in our families, with our friends all over. So we’re all leaders every day.
Gaurav: You told about three secrets of leadership in your book, how do you define the foundation of strong leadership?
Alain: So there’s three secrets: connection, communication and collaboration. And to me the heart of leadership is connection because fundamental leadership isn’t a position. It’s a relationship between two human beings: a person who leads and the person who chooses to follow because remember, following is a choice. I choose every day whether or not I want to engage fully and offer you my talents and services. So it’s a relationship and it starts with connection. And to me, the foundation of connection is empathy. It’s that simple human act of showing people that you understand them, and that you care how they feel. Now, as I’m sure all of us listening right now are going well, that sounds very basic, of course, it’s so simple, unfortunately, particularly in bigger organisations. This is challenging for a lot of leaders, because I think what we do is we feel the pressure of producing, you know, getting the numbers to achieve the goal. And in that pressure and the deadlines. We don’t have the patience that empathy requires, because let’s face it, we talk a lot about the world of leadership and we in coaching, we talk a lot about holding space.
For others, and if you stop and think about what is holding space, really, it means at least temporarily taking your own agenda and putting it to the side and making space to be completely present to somebody else and their agenda. And let’s face it for me, and I have kids, I know this is challenging. It’s so much easier said than done to be truly present and allow others to be completely themselves and express themselves. And that’s where it starts from. So empathy is where it starts. And it’s the basis like we said, connection is the foundation of strong leadership.
Gaurav: I’m just trying to understand what is the difference between relationship and connection?
Alain: The model that I have is three concentric circles. So connection is in the centre, but then communication comes around it, which means connection is part of communication. And then it’s not like they’re three separate entities, they’re actually three completely interdependent pieces. So that’s why so yeah, so for example, relationship is a key part of connection. It’s also a key part of communication. And it’s a key part of collaboration because all of this happens in the interchange of that relationship between leader and follower as we as we build things through. So on.
Hello Reader, the conversation is as deep as any book. Find it here at The xMonks Drive podcast.
A sought-after keynote speaker, facilitator, coach and author, Alain Hunkins helps leaders achieve performance goals, easier.
His work connects the science of high performance with the performing art of leadership. Leaders trust him to help unlock their potential and expand their influence, leading to superior results, increased engagement, higher levels of retention, and greater organizational and personal satisfaction. He has a gift for translating complex concepts from psychology, neuroscience and organizational behavior into simple, practical tools that can be applied on the job.
With his Master’s in Fine Arts in Acting from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Professional Theater Training Program, and a BA from Amherst College, Alain is on the faculty of Duke Corporate Education, ranked #2 worldwide in 2019 by Financial Times on its list of customized Executive Education programs. He also serves on the Academic Advisory Board for the New Delhi Institute of Management, and has lectured at UNC Kenan-Flagler’s business school, Pepperdine Graduate School of Education and Psychology, UMass-Boston College of Management and Columbia University. Alain was invited to Den Helder, Netherlands to give a TEDx talk called “”The Basic Truth Most Leaders Neglect”.
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