Last fall, I was fortunate enough to visit Barcelona, Spain. After I returned, reflecting on the gorgeous diversity of the people I saw and interacted with, I was even more committed to a guiding principle for my life and professional work:

People across the world, in any nation or culture, of any race, creed, political belief, etc., basically want the same two things: 1. To be happier and suffer less, and 2. To be empowered to make meaningful contributions to the world around them.

As fellow human beings, we’re far more connected than separate. And once a critical mass of us builds muscle memory around getting to know those who are “different,” and subsequently evolves our mindsets and choices, we might finally begin to catch a glimpse of equitable flourishing.

Speaking of mindsets…

Less openness to coaching

As each of us confronts (willingly or unwillingly) a specific complex and nuanced problem, a real-time “mindset” is revealed. Although our mindsets usually exist along a continuum, and aren’t always in the same place on this continuum from one moment to another, in general we are typically leaning toward being either:

  1. Less open to coaching, or
  2. More open to coaching

When we are less open to coaching, we tend to struggle with a degree of lack of curiosity. And the greater this deficit, the more likely each of us is to have fixed or rigid beliefs. Such rigidity sets the stage for a likely wrestling match with cognitive dissonance, which is the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.

More importantly—and sometimes with negative consequences for ourselves or others—these tendencies enable “groupthink,” which discourages creativity or individual responsibility, and intolerance toward others whose ideas, values, or experiences differ from ours.

Absent or uneven leadership

When an individual (with a “title” or no title) brings these factors into positions of leadership or influence, they are more likely to demonstrate absent or (at best) uneven or unreliable leadership. Such a leader and their team are more prone to a lack of clarity about what they want or need to achieve in the context of the complex and nuanced problem. The primary culprit in most cases? The leader isn’t guiding them to fully consider the situation from multiple angles or viewpoints, leaving many of the best ideas and potential breakthroughs untouched.

When a work group has a lack of clarity on the challenge they’re trying to solve and how to solve it, there’s less alignment on what to do next. In this quagmire, trust is more likely to be eroded since the team will consciously or subconsciously have a lack of faith in the leader’s abilities to unite everyone and drive them toward results.

And where trust is lacking, motivation is also lacking. And without consistent motivation, there’s a dearth of impactful action steps.

The ultimate impact of a tendency toward being less open to coaching that enables “absent or uneven leadership?” The complex and nuanced problems we’re facing don’t improve and usually get worse. The people most impacted by the problem are less likely to flourish.

More openness to coaching

Conversely, when a person’s mindset is more open to coaching, they are more likely to exhibit some degree of mindfulness, which is the practice of giving full attention to what’s happening within and around you, without judging yourself or others. Mindfulness enables emotional intelligence, which is an enhanced and practiced ability to perceive, evaluate, express, and control emotions.

Building upon this foundation of higher self-awareness and empathy, an individual is more apt to push themselves to embrace learning agility—which is the practice of regularly seeking new experiences, applying feedback, and reflecting on lessons learned, to keep growing professionally and personally. They’re less afraid of change and uncomfortable situations and often seek them out.

This self-awareness, empathy, and learning agility fosters more effective relationships and, in the context of this constant growth and positive interactions with others, each of us can more fully and confidently laser-focus on skills we want to continue to build.

Skills that increase our odds of flourishing amid finding meaningful and sustainable work.

Authentic human leadership

When others observe this type of mindset in an individual, the person is likely to be viewed as demonstrating authentic human leadership. Day over day, such a remarkable person tends to embody:

  • A propensity to both coach others and be coached by others.
  • Effective use of storytelling, which ultimately helps others to understand who the leader is, what’s important to them, and what they’re asking people to do.
  • An ongoing demonstration of “immersive empathy,” whereby the leader is proactively seeing the world through another person’s eyes and on their turf.
  • Ongoing, give-and-take dialogue, which enables the leader and the people they lead or influence to begin to identify and align on those complexities and nuances of a problem.
  • A penchant for the aforementioned “design thinking,” which is described in this McKinsey article as “design thinking is “a methodology that we use to solve complex problems” and “a way of using systemic reasoning and intuition to explore ideal future states.”

The frequent outcome of authentic human leadership? Complex and nuanced problems begin to improve. People begin to more fully flourish.

Let’s keep it real. These problems seldom “go away completely.” But the focus should be less on total eradication and more on, “How do I make this situation a little better today than it was yesterday?”

Let’s connect

I’m an ICF and Hogan certified coach, equipping professionals to develop their authentic human leadership capabilities in the age of AI. My customers are internal HR or L&D professionals seeking coaching for their business clients, as well as business leaders looking to connect directly with a coach for themselves or their team members. Use this link to schedule a call with me to discuss potential coaching services. You can also email me or message me on LinkedIn.