The hard truth – why leaders need to embrace softness

Right now, the world has undergone a global shake-up on an epic scale. There is a constant battle for attention, uncertainty is the new normal, income divides are becoming greater and there is an obsession to find simpler, faster ways of doing everything.

Organisations are desperately searching to recruit resilient leaders who are strong enough to steer the ship through turbulent waters. Mental toughness has become a must have corporate attribute. The ability for leaders to have courageous conversations, the vision to remain not just one step ahead of the competition but a hundred steps ahead. With consumers becoming more demanding, business leaders are frantically innovating new ways, changing old ways and carving a way to victory or until their luck runs out.

These are utterly exhausting times that we are living in. The pace of life has been invigorated artificially by a caffeine overload. Multi-tasking can no longer keep up. It’s been overtaken by multiple multi-tasking that’s caused more confusion and overwhelm. Global warming is creating savage weather conditions that whips people into a storm of frenzy and worry.

Remember that expression that went something along the lines of ‘enjoy the simple pleasures in life’? With today’s technology when ‘in demand’ has become ‘on demand’ who has time to live simply?

When you combine the frenetic pace of living with continual uncertainty then typically this creates an underlying anxiety. People become more prone to stress and less able to express themselves authentically. At work this pressure is heightened because added into the already turbulent cauldron is a need to earn money and the ego’s desire to be validated, appreciated and recognised.

Employees try to present and maintain a facade to their colleagues and manager that is different to who they really are inside. Resistance and negativity are simply imposters of the real enemy – fear. When employees don’t feel safe for any reason they often appear withdrawn, resistant, disinterested and even incompetent. Yet they are scared. Fear creates a choking effect – a crippling form of anxiety due to an overwhelming burden of expectation. People literally can’t think properly, they don’t behave in a way that supports the organisation’s vision and they struggle to perform their role.

Gone are the days when being ruthless was admired and the harder you are conveys strength and power. These are outdated and exhausting ways to lead and manage people. These ways will only feed the fear and add another crippling dimension into the drowning employee.

What employees need above anything right now is soothing.

When leaders are gentle, sensitive and understanding they create a safe environment that allows the busy and overburdened mind to be cocooned and rocked in a cradle of warmth. Gentleness is the new efficiency. Sensitive is the new hot leadership skill. Emotional Intelligence is being recognised as equally as important as strategic and visionary. Kindness softens the anxiety as employees feel calm, secure and supported. TED Talks sensation, Simon Sinek explains that by cultivating a strong circle of safety where focus is put first on morale ensures that high performance will follow.

A soft touch and a gentle approach will boost morale, power up performance and deliver great results. Being fully present and focused on what is happening in the present situation causes people to awaken to what is going on right NOW. Having the courage to trust emotions and gut instincts.

Recognising that people are not robots and they respond emotionally. Leaders who are heart centric will evoke a strong positive emotional response.

The vagus nerve is a bundle of nerves that originates in the top of the spinal cord. It activates different organs throughout the body, such as the heart, lungs, liver and digestive organs. When the vagus nerve is active, it produces a warm feeling of expansion in the chest and it is referred to as the nerve of compassion. It stimulates certain muscles in the vocal chamber, enabling communication to flow, and it reduces the heart rate to promote a feeling of calm. Studies show that there is a connection with oxytocin, a neurotransmitter involved in trust and empathy. Leaders who are compassionate and kind boost their vagus nerve activators and creates a deep sense of security and belonging in employees.

Leaders who embrace a softer approach with their workforce will engage hearts and minds. When everyone within an organisation feels a sense of community and connection they thrive. When people are the recipients of kindness they have a propensity to demonstrate kindness to others. When people feel safe they open up and express the best of themselves. When people feel seen they grow taller.

More information about my work relating to charismatic leaders can be found on the following link:

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