Leading Blog


Approaching Leadership Excellence Through New Angles

Approaching Leadership Excellence

ABOUT 400 years ago, Isaac Newton probably experienced an epiphany when he figured out how prisms work. His experiments showed that when light hits glass at an angle, it not only slows down but also bends as it enters the glass and bends again when it exits, thus leaving the glass at a new angle. The physics of a prism can also be applied to leadership: In an agile work environment, it is valuable to slow down and reconsider which leadership angle to take in particular situations. The PRISM Model offers five angles to leading people and forms the bedrock of leadership excellence.

P = Purpose

People have an intrinsic need to know that what they do day in and day out has personal meaning for themselves and is meaningful to others; that what they do, in essence, has a positive impact on others and purpose. Most average leaders I have met can recite their company's mission statement but aren't necessarily in tune with their values – solid and unwavering values that drive them toward something bigger and serve as a lighthouse when faced with tough decisions. Excellent leaders live their personal and professional lives in alignment with their core values, which provide their employees with stability, transparency, and consistency. Their employees don't have to waste time and energy playing guessing games about their supervisor because they know from the outset what is important to them, and just as important, they know what contribution they make as the team or company strives toward this purpose. What is your purpose in life? Does it align with your core values? Have you shared it with your employees?

R = Relationships

Leadership excellence means building and fostering healthy relationships with employees and coworkers. This means taking responsibility for creating a climate where people enjoy coming to work, whether in a virtual setting or on-site. They feel safe not only in expressing their opinions but also know that their opinions are appreciated and valued by you and their coworkers. There is a climate where no negative gossiping or online chats about another person takes place. It's a climate where issues are not swept under the carpet but addressed openly, respectfully, and timely. Teams spend more time together from Monday to Friday than with their families. The workplace can be seen as an extended family. If people work day in and day out in a toxic environment – gossiping, lack of trust, hurting each other – they will not perform at their best. In fact, toxic work environments lead to quiet quitting, burnout, and increased resignations. When leaders have meaningful conversations with their employees, ask open questions, truly listen to them, and nip any toxicity (such as gossiping) in the bud, they are well on their way to fostering trust and building relationships.

I = Instilling Energy

Emotional contagion is a fact of life. We "infect "people with our energy – be it toxic or positive – within a matter of minutes. Research indicates that the person in the room with the highest power is the one who spreads the energy. Ideally, this is the leader. In some situations where a toxic team member has hijacked the team or derailed a meeting, this individual spreads the energy. In such cases, feelings of fear, anger, frustration, and intimidation are spread. If, however, the leader has built a climate of psychological safety and put a stop to toxicity, their energy is spread. Leaders need to be mindful of their energy when they enter a room or dial into a call. This will be instilled in their team if they are stressed, angry, or distracted. This will be instilled if they are open-minded, positive, and appreciative. Before entering a room or joining a call, reset your mindset to create the atmosphere you want to have.

S = Strength Spotting

It is a fact of life: the brain is programmed to spot the negative things first, a term which is called the negativity bias. We see the weaknesses and development areas of others before we see their strengths and positive attributes. But when we consciously look for our employees' strengths and give them a chance to use them on the job, studies show that engagement increases, stress is reduced, innovation and agile thinking is fostered, and self-confidence grows. What tasks are your employees performing when they are filled with energy, drive, and motivation? What do they do naturally? If you are unsure, have a conversation with your employees and ask them. Questions such as "What makes for a really good day on the job? ", "What kinds of things give you energy here at work? ", and "What are you doing when you are at your best? "are great door-openers to finding out more about your employees and strengthening your relationship with them.

M = Growth Mindset

Cultivating a growth mindset in employees is one of the biggest assets any leader can accrue in their team. A growth mindset is one where employees value feedback (vs. taking it as a personal attack), grow from setbacks (vs. blaming others for their failure), are open to challenges (vs. trying to avoid them), and learn from others (vs. being jealous of their success). Rome wasn't built in a day, nor is a growth mindset. Coaching employees and helping them shift from a fixed to a growth mindset takes time and patience. The return on investment, however, is enormous: psychological safety, self-confidence, trust, motivation, innovation, and engagement – just to name a few benefits – skyrocket.

In our fast-paced VUCA world, the PRISM Model offers five angles to leading people and forms the bedrock of leadership excellence. As Gen Z is entering the workforce, more employees are demanding a remote or hybrid work set-up, and the number of burnouts and quiet quitting are reaching unforeseen numbers. Today's leader is faced with unique challenges and opportunities. A PRISM approach – purpose, relationships, instilling energy, strength spotting, and a growth mindset – is, quite frankly, not rocket science. It allows leaders to approach leadership excellence from various angles and foster a climate where people enjoy showing up for work and making a valuable contribution.

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Leading Forum
Whitney Breer is an organizational consultant, trainer, executive coach, keynote speaker, and author of Leadership Starts with You. Specific tools for applying the PRISM Model and building leadership excellence can be found in her book. She is a renowned global expert in leadership, change management, and resiliency. She was born and raised in the US, has been based in Germany for the last 25 years, and considers the world her home. She has worked in over 20+ countries in the last decade and offers on-site and online support to organizations worldwide. Find out more about her at www.WhitneyBreer.com

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 03:23 PM
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