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Jun 01, 2016

5 Steps To Help You Lead More Holistically

Holistic: The word gets about these days. Whether food shopping, Internet surfing or chatting with friends over a cuppa, living and eating holistically has become today’s ‘buzz term’ for defining a healthy lifestyle. So what does it mean? Perhaps the word triggers a positive association with eco-friendly products, a healthy way of life and self-discipline? Or does it ignite feelings of guilt, as so often we are struggling to reach a sustainable level of  ‘holistic living mastery’? We all know these days that keeping a balanced diet, regular fitness regime and healthy sleeping pattern is good for us.  But what if we apply some holistic rhetoric and tips to the area of leadership, to redefine and support a healthier and more holistic way of leading? Here are five steps to achieve exactly this:  

1.    Self-Discovery

Firstly, holistic leadership is not only about leading others. Whether formally leading your direct reports or team members in a work context, or inspiring your spouse, partner, family members, friends or others around you - it starts with leading ‘your own self’. Imagine sitting on a plane ready to depart to your chosen destination. The standard inflight security demonstration begins and you turn away, bored. But pay closer attention and you’ll hear your cabin crew member completely capture the notion of leading your own self with this request: “Make sure your own oxygen mask is fitted before helping anybody else.”

This makes sense, right? How can you lead others before you know how to lead yourself? Holistic leadership means you need to be aware of your whole self, including:

  • Who you really are and what you need and want in life (i.e. Your preferences and personality, your fears and hopes, your dark side, your bright side, your values, your belief systems, your hot buttons, your motivators, drivers and goals, and what matters most to you);
  • Your personal level of balance at any given time;
  • Factors that can represent sources of (physical and other) imbalance and stress for you; d)    Your resilience levels.  If low, how might this manifest and impact your outer world?

2.    Self-Awareness

Once you have reached a solid understanding of your self, you need to:

  • Accept with openness and honesty what you found out;
  • Be comfortable with all of it, including the changeable bits and the not so easy to change bits;
  • Create your own personal self-leadership development plan, tailored to your unique needs, with your own drivers and work/life context. For example, if you are working as a people manager in a large corporation that is undergoing some major restructuring and are a father or mother of two small children, or if you are self–employed and at the start of your career fresh from university, your personal context will drive your personal development goal(s) in different ways.

3.    Self-Development

Developing and growing as a person, leader and professional is a lifelong process and needs constant readjustment, re-evaluation and perseverance. Plus bucket loads of resilience! As an example, saying to yourself, “My development goal of listening more carefully is now completed, I am now developed.”, might be the wrong conclusion. In contrast, saying to yourself, “I notice that I became a much better listener because my friends, my team or my wife are actually coming to me more often if they need to be listened to.”, demonstrates a level of achievement and progress compared to the starting point. Your goal might need to be worked at over time, but might now require less attention versus another different or new area of development. Taking care of your physical health and well-being is considered as important as any other development goal in self leadership.

4.    Self-Acceptance

Once the self-awareness dimension shifts from being a one off episode to being mastered as a healthy way of being, we start to lead more holistically.  By this time we are now in a position to feel more comfortable and confident of who we are, who we are not and whom we don’t want to or can’t be.

5.     Self-Mastery

Congratulations - at this stage, we are leading from within. This means that we are much better equipped to ‘give to and lead others’ in a more holistic and balanced way than if we had skipped some or all of the four development stages discussed so far. In essence, referring back to the plane security demonstration we mentioned at the start,  now we are ready to ‘help others in putting their oxygen mask’ on and will do a far better job at it. We are humble enough to know our limitations and feel comfortable about being open, honest and vulnerable to voice these when required and ask to be supported by others who might have what we miss. On the other hand we are also proud and confident to know our own strengths and how to utilise these to lead and inspire the best in others.

Holistic/Healthy Leadership

Leading holistically means obtaining a healthy balance between leading from the ‘inside out’ (self- leadership) and leading from the ‘outside in’ (leading others). As is often the case with living more holistically, holistic leadership also requires a balancing act. The ‘healthy ingredients’ are all within ourselves, we just need curiosity to discover them, understand them, develop where possible and accept them. By leading more holistically, we might even be able to inspire others to do so too. Can you imagine the multiplying effect and positive impact this could have on our society and the world overall?

Natalie is the founder of Badiliko – a positive learning solutions consultancy specialising in leadership coaching and development for greater authenticity, trust, well-being and happiness in the world.

Badiliko’s motto is: Lead from within. Inspire others. Transform the world

"If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end somewhere else." - Laurence J. Peters

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