The heartful leader – part 9

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In previous articles RAVI VENKATESAN introduced the Heartful Leader framework and explored Reputation, Trust & Relationships and Outer Behavior. He then explored how we can manage our inner state to create specific behavior shifts, and how to consistently build trust and relationships by doing this. In this article he looks at leveraging the trust and relationships that we’ve built through consistent positive behavior shifts, which are a result of managing our inner state more effectively.


Extraordinary outcomes through inspiration


LEVERAGING TRUST AND RELATIONSHIPS
TO CREATE A REPUTATION AND INFLUENCE


Reputation and influence are where “rubber meets the road.” They give us the ability to generate outcomes needed for the organizations we serve.

In part 2 of this series we discussed the components of reputation and also discussed strategies to manage these, and how to rebuild reputations when needed. Here are the key components:

Now let’s look at a scenario where inside-out Heartful Leadership can create a different kind of reputation and, consequently, Influence.

Jonathan worked at a medical equipment manufacturer as the General Manager over the Diagnostic Equipment business division. He had a reputation within the organization for being a no-nonsense hard driving leader, who would achieve results at all costs: a strict disciplinarian with staunch loyalists, who got rid of everyone else from his management team. Most of the line managers and staff seldom heard from him, except when something went wrong, and he was known to fire people quickly if they did not get him expected results.

Jonathan was recently assigned to run a new software division for his company. Kumar, the VP of Engineering at the software division candidly expressed his concerns to Sheila, the company Chief HR Officer. He said, “Jonathan is a great leader and has achieved wonderful results for the company, but he will be a disaster running the software business. He has an old school leadership approach that is suitable for manufacturing but not for software. Our engineers work flexible hours, expect a lot of perks, are used to taking breaks and playing games at the workplace, and also stay late and meet deadlines when needed. It is a different culture, and unfortunately Jonathan’s reputation precedes him.”

After much consideration and discussions with the CEO, Sheila had Jonathan go through a crash course on Heartful Leadership, especially “inside-out management,” to create a new reputation for himself as he approached his new role. Instead of straightaway bringing him on board as the GM of this business, he was brought on in an advisory capacity, and introduced to the team as someone who will be a consultant on improving profitability and market position. Kumar was taken into confidence to help rebuild Jonathan’s reputation. He personally empowered Kumar to provide him very candid feedback if he saw him demonstrate controlling or dictatorial behavior in any meeting or interaction. Jonathan spent the next 12 weeks interacting with most of the managers, engineers and leaders of the software business without exercising any authority or control.


The Heartful Leader


At times he caught himself feeling angry at how “democratic” and hence slow the decision-making process was. He was also frustrated with the work culture of remote work, which he felt led to a sense of entitlement. However, he managed his inner state effectively to keep coming back to neutral. He demonstrated extremely collaborative behavior, and quickly established a solid level of trust with most of the leaders. He also developed a great personal rapport with Kumar, who was actually surprised at how differently he felt about Jonathan after getting to know him as a person.

The combination of trust and relationships led to Jonathan’s reputation at the software division being that of someone who is open-minded, always listens keenly, assumes positive intent, and builds consensus. When his new role as GM of this division was announced, the team was completely energized, and welcomed the decision. He had also built enough influence with the team by this time, which made his job easier, when making much needed changes.

This sort of rebuilding of a reputation is hard and takes consistent work over a period of time. It requires a disciplined approach of managing one’s inner state and hence outer behavior. This builds trust and relationships that lead to the desired reputation, and consequently influence, without even the need for authority.

What sort of reputation would you like to develop over the next 60 to 90 days? Are you happy with your current reputation? Explore how a process of inside-out Heartful Leadership can result in a positive shift for you.


Article by RAVI VENKATESAN


Ravi Venkatesan

About Ravi Venkatesan

Ravi lives in Atlanta, Georgia, and currently works as Chief Technology Officer in a software solutions company. He is also a regular public speaker and public speaking coach. He has been a Heartfulness meditator for over 20 years and is passionate about applying meditation lessons to improve workplace relationships and productivity.


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