From year to year, leadership development changes due to alignment with the needs of the environment, the new ways of doing business, considering research on key performance factors of individual leaders, psychological profiles of new generations. Qualities such as authenticity, vulnerability, being in the moment are more present, but also old ones remain: the call for profit, results, success. Today’s leaders do not have an easy job!
All the leaders are confronted with the question “Am I good enough?”. It happens to some people at the very beginning, when they are not sure if they are ready to take on a high(er) position. For others it happens when systemic / strategic changes happen in the organization. Some leaders start to question their capacities, experience, position. How might leaders manage these moments of doubt and uncertainty? Renaissance leadership through coaching offers a prism that enhances leaders’ self-awareness and resilience
What are the seven Principles of Renaissance leadership?
- Arte / Scenza
1. Curiosità – insatiable Curiosity
We are all born curious. From birth, and probably even earlier, babies experiment with everything in their environment. When they speak, the torch of the “how?” and “why?” questions are moving. Great minds continue to ask questions throughout their lives. They grow, expand, prospect, face their own ignorance, ready to learn and understand. Leonardo da Vinci is known for his indelible mark in research and medicine, besides his contribution to art. One of his principles, when dissecting the body to gain better understanding of the human body for his paintings was to dissect each part of the body from at least three different angles. As he said, this is the only way to get a full, big picture. Great minds raise big questions. The questions we ask ourselves throughout our lives are a reflection of our life and leadership goals and affect the quality of our lives, our leadership, and hence the lives of others.
If we talk about leaders, we would like to believe that leaders have great minds – that they have the potential to see, understand and lead. Issues that encourage development and business advancement are “what if …” questions. Such questions stimulate the imagination and shake perspective. Great leaders dare to go to the best options of their success and success in their business. Therefore, by asking “what if” questions, leaders trigger improvement and progress. One of the questions that successful entrepreneurs ask themselves at the very beginning is: “What if I could find some way to be paid to do what I love and be who I am fully?”
2. Dimonstrazione – Testing Knowledge Through Experience
We all have had opportunities to learn from different teachers. The question is: what makes a teacher great? Above all, it is the ability to help a learner learn by him/herself. When we talk about great leaders, it is important to talk about how willing they are to share their knowledge and experience, but also to inspire their closest associates to spread and develop their own knowledge and talents.
Renaissance leadership propagates learning by reviewing dogmas, assumptions, postulates, and their own beliefs and limitations. When it comes to developing and coaching a leader, the important questions are:
- When was the last time you changed a deeply rooted belief?
- What kind of feeling did you have then?
The release effect achieved by working with leaders in this way consequently leads to the creation of an environment in which associates can grow and develop under the mentorship and leadership of a leader open for discussion, co-creation and provoking the re-consideration of assumptions and beliefs. The atmosphere in which error is considered a learning tool raises the level of awareness and development.
3. Sensazione – Cultivating the Senses
Our senses are the keys which help us open the door of experience. Saper vedere is one of da Vinci’s principles and means “to be able to observe”. He said “Our whole knowledge comes from our perceptions.”
The process of leader development most often begins with an assessment of the potential and readiness of the future leader to assume such a responsible role. By responsibility I mean the responsibility for business results, but also the responsibility for the people s/he leads, the environment and for her/himself.
Therefore, the assessment process is followed by the self-assessment process. A key parameter for slowing down the promotion process is when there is a large deviation between self-assessment and objective assessment. This indicates blind spots – a lack of awareness of strengths, but also of the areas for development. The lack of awareness that others see is often the cause of bad atmosphere, under-developed trust and ineffective relationships in the team. To be the leader, it is important to be aware of oneself, open for feedback and constantly work on empowering existing strengths while also reducing weaknesses.
This principle also applies to the stimulation of senses in the working environment. The role of a leader includes growing of associates by providing an environment that stimulates development.
4. Sfumato – Accepting Uncertainty
From time to time everyone faces uncertainty. The liberation of creative potential through coaching happens if the person is ready to keep an open mind as the uncertainty occurs. In the ‘80s, the American Association of Managers published a study in which they concluded that the most successful leaders are characterized by a very high tolerance towards ambiguity and intuitive decision-making. In addition to this, Professor Weston Eygor in his book “The Intuitive Decision Logic” pointed out that the lack of attention to his own intuition was the primary cause for his worst business decisions. At the beginning of the 21st century we are struggling with the amount of information and this threatens to shut us down. Intuition is more important than ever. Working with leaders, I confront powerful blockades and barriers that have been set during their careers and made long-lasting and often painful processes. Professional Coaching is a great way to awaken and refresh intuition, as well as to empower leaders to trust intuition’s role in decision-making.
5. Arte / Scenza – The Balance of Science and Art
Although our education, at least in theory, fuels the idea of a balanced Renaissance education, we are suffering in practice from the desire to ignore the nonverbal. This leads to the fact that modern society discriminates against people who have a predominantly developed right side of the brain (hemisphere). In most cases the left hemisphere is developed for logical reasoning, while the right one oversees the imaginative and picturesque. Even during schooling, we nurture and reward logical reasoning, while the creative and imaginative is degraded and neglected. If we recall Leonardo da Vinci at the same time as an artist and a scientist, it is quite clear that there is no proper restriction in the form of “incapable of logical thinking” or “unable to develop creative capacities”. Seriousness and logic help us to penetrate the essence of things and playfulness allows us to create new, original combinations.
6. Corporalità – Physical Care (fitness and grace)
The state of body affects the state of mind. If the body is stiff and rigid, or decrepit and sloppy, the mind will likely follow. The judgement “If s/he cannot take care of his/her own body, how can s/he take care of millions of dollars and people?” illuminates that leaders whose physical appearance reflects anxiety, will not be trusted. It is not necessary to wear expensive suits, but to radiate health and wellness.
Additionally, the word “corporation” comes from the word corpus meaning body. Most corporate bodies (cultures), unfortunately, are rigid and dominated by unconscious habits and patterns. Some old habits and patterns hinder growth and development. It is therefore very important to understand this inextricable relationship between body-mind-spirit and to work on the liberation of the body, to relax the mind and release the spirit.
7. Connessione –Systemic Thinking
“The stone that strikes the surface of the water causes the circles around it to expand, until they disappear,” said Leonardo da Vinci. Contemporary psychology emphasizes the importance of understanding the dynamics of the system to boldly understand it, one’s role, and one’s relationships with it. Any change in one part of the system causes greater or minor changes in all parts of the system. The stronger the initial impulse or closer to the body affected by it, the more powerful is the influence. However, very often leaders are not aware of the strengths of the influence in their environment. Every business decision affects not only the employees, but also the whole organization as well as the entire environment and people in the immediate vicinity of the employees. Systemic thinking is one of key capabilities of a leader. Often, it is the focal topic of leadership coaching.
What are the benefits of Renaissance Leadership?
Applying the 7 principles raises self-aware and builds resilience in leaders. Leaders are then better equipped to grow satisfied employees and accomplish sustainable business results – especially in times of disruption and uncertainty. ICF Professional coaches can act as partners with leaders as they navigate their way to develop their ability to live out the 7 principles in their everyday leading of their organisations in an embodied way. This enables leaders to immediately create improvement whilst also attending to developing mastery in their leadership, rather than adopting yet another technique which then fades when replaced with the next recommended technique. Leaders are part of the long game. ICF Professional Coaches are up for development which requires endurance.
Mirjana Gomilanovic is an ICF Professional Certified Coach (PCC) in the field of leadership development and organizational growth, the author of books “Lighthouse in me” and “A Boy in an Executive’s Suit”. She is Executive Director of the Agency “One2grow-Leadership Coaching” and acts on a voluntary basis as Director of Programs at the ICF Serbia Chapter.
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