The Key To Strong Leadership: A Strong Core

leadership core
“Leadership Core” Image credit: Pixabay

If health isn’t a priority for you then neither is your leadership effectiveness. You can’t lead others until you know how to lead yourself, and that starts with making difficult choices amongst competing priorities.

Make no doubt about it: leadership is both a sprint and an endurance race. To “win” in the game of leadership requires situational and self-awareness since there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all leadership solution.

Health and fitness have always been a large part of who I am and what I believe to contribute greatly to any leader or aspiring leader’s success. They must, for the physical realm lays the groundwork for the emotional realm. When was the last time you felt outstanding after eating garbage? Didn’t think so.

Anyway, there’s one piece of the self leadership puzzle that can — and should — be developed daily: your core.

Core is defined as, “the central or most important part of something…that is central to its existence or character.” In other words, the core is the inner shell that is lays the groundwork for supporting the outer shell. Stick with me here, I’ll explain all this…

The “core” of the human body, for example, serves as a support center to protect the inner organs, help stabilize and transfer muscle movement, and sustain strong posture. Similarly, the “core” of a business refers to the central nucleus of values, principles and behaviors and beliefs that guide leadership decisions and (ideally) reinforce the company’s best interest.

Just as athletes depend on their cores as valuable commodities to get them through a race, leaders carry around similar value in their epicenters — value that serves as the source of that leader’s effectiveness — or lack thereof.

If the core value of leadership is service, for instance, then selfishness is a road to nowhere; if gratitude is at the core of leadership then a simple “thank you” is likely at the core of this leader’s daily vocabulary because that’s what he or she believes will generate value.

If you want to build a strong leadership core, below are three critical components:

Extend trust.

Without trust, there’s no momentum. No progression. Trust is central to every relationship we encounter, any transaction we make, and any task we delegate. While working out in the gym we trust that our warmup is acceptable, that our bodies won’t break, that our muscles won’t tear or that physical therapy actually worked. In business, trust can be divided into two areas: competence and character, or skill and will. We trust airline pilots to know what all those bright shiny buttons do and we also trust that they have positive intent not to nosedive the plan into the ground. Character and competence are inextricably linked to building long lasting trust.

Be flexible.

Physical flexibility is clearly valuable as it helps prevent injury (but it’s oh so boring!) Mental flexibility, however, is required if you want to manage the mental game, as it’s what enables perpetual learning and allows you to create new mental models and grow as person. In the business world, what organizational flexibility looks like is:

  • Shared context. First-level employees who understand the objectives, strategy and direction of the company so they can make decisions autonomously in the best interest of the company.
  • Duplicate efforts are minimized because people know to either over-communicate or under-deliver.
  • A willingness to embrace newness and adapt to change without creating discomfort throughout the company or sending employees into a deep, dark black hole of depression.

Shared purpose.

Physiologically speaking, a strong core is mutually reinforcing: it supports the quadriceps which complement the hamstrings; it helps the abdominals support the back and vice versa. Muscle groups share a common purpose which is to enable higher levels of performance. Likewise, the leadership challenge is fostering the same mutually supportive structure that enables employees to share a common purpose throughout the company and operate as we rather than as me.

The core of leadership is fundamental to higher performance, as it serves as the guiding light to pursue when uncertainty presents itself. Leadership effectiveness is a byproduct of strong core.

Originally published at Chaos Advantage.

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