For eight years I’ve been running my leadership consultancy business. For half of that time, I was working out which way was up. Unlearning 25 years of corporate memory muscle hurts! At the same time, I was wrestling with what it takes to create the work/home life that we all crave. Now safely on the other side of my personal ‘Hero’s Journey’, I can say that it has unquestionably been the hardest, yet most rewarding period of my career.
The shift from ‘knowing’ to ‘being’
I’ve felt for a while that we are in the middle of a big shift. For most of my journey I was focused on getting my expertise and experience out into the world. Whilst this is still important, it’s no longer where we should focus. Google, big data, A.I. et al are rapidly commoditizing expertise. Understanding this is fundamental to helping all of us to achieve commercial success and personal happiness. Whether we are looking to get ahead as leaders, entrepreneurs, consultants or coaches, it’s no longer what we ‘know’, but who we ‘be’ that’s important.
This is liberating
The main thing holding us back from truly ‘Shining’ in our careers is a lack of self-belief. We hide in being merely credible. That’s because, even a few years ago, this was the name of the game. Think about the typical resume or LinkedIn profile. It’s about your EXPERTISE (what you know) and your EXPERIENCE (where you’ve been). It says, “I am a credible and well-credentialed professional and I will do a good job”. Trouble is, the ‘connected world’ is full of credible experts – many of them delighted to work for a lot less than you. To stand out in a global marketplace we need to bring something more?
As my TIME TO SHINE model below shows though, there’s a third element. We need to introduce your ESSENCE (who you be).
Bringing your Essence into play is where the magic happens. Our energy and enthusiasm, our interests and personality – they are what make us unique. Our Essence combines with our Experience to showcase our Authenticity and with our Expertise to build that compelling sense of Conviction. We are all fed up with slick sales shtick and dry academic ‘experts’. We’re looking for people who give a shit and can move us with their energy and love.
For years we’ve been conditioned to leave our Essence at the door as we go to work. But no longer! It’s time to BIG UP your Essence. It’s the key to standing out, getting the job, winning the work, making more money (and being HAPPY!)
Time to unleash your Humanity
When we take this to the next level, we not only see why this shift is important, but also how we can position ourselves to be on the right side of it.
EXPERTISE is derived from our Intelligence (Education, Knowledge, Theory, Instinct …). Using the contemporary idea of us having not one, but three brains (Head Brain, Gut Brain, Heart Brain) this is Head Brain. It’s about what we think.
In a sense this is now the least important of the three elements. We no longer struggle for ideas or information – we are overwhelmed with both. Traditionally, we have prized this enormously. But in the modern context, it’s less important. We now live in the ‘Fourth Industrial Age’, the ‘Ideas Economy’ or (my favourite), the ‘Imagination Age’. The value we bring to our employer, staff and clients resides far more in how we create meaning and connection than in the raw horsepower of our intelligence.
EXPERIENCE is most powerful when we turn it into Wisdom. Again, it’s a value-adding process. Experience unexamined (e.g. doing the same job thoughtlessly for 20 years) is less valuable than experience that is contemplated, refined and transformed into Wisdom. In my model, the processes include application, pragmatism, perspective, adaptation and world-view. Most importantly, it includes Intuition. This is the Gut-Brain. Neuroscience now tells us that the 100 million neurons in our gut help us to ‘know’ as well and ‘think’. We’ve all had times when we either did or didn’t act on our gut instinct and found over time that we were right or wrong to do so. Indeed, Colin Powell in his 40-70 rule berates leaders who wait until they have all the information before they act as too slow!
ESSENCE is quite simply about our HUMANITY. That’s a BIG WORD – perhaps the biggest of all. The great news is that bringing our humanity into work is not-only good for us, the people we lead, our clients and our customers – it’s also good for business. It’s about our Heart Brain and how we ‘feel’. We now know that we ‘feel’ emotionally before we ‘think’ rationally. Our first response is always emotional (hurt, joy, fear, anger). Once we get this, it’s easy to see why mastering our emotional intelligence is so important.
Customers love this
Clients value people who genuinely connect with them at a human level. They don’t want dry academic theory. They want smart collaborators who can help them to grow and succeed in the reality of their busy, stressful and chaotic lives.
And so do teams
In the same way, teams are looking for leadership, not expertise. A recent survey of Australian leaders by Six Degrees pointed to a big disconnect here. The employees interviewed valued leaders who demonstrated great interpersonal skills who could build teams. Their leaders valued ‘hard work’ and a ‘track record of success’ as most important (ranked 9th and 11th by their teams).
My TIME TO SHINE model outlines just some of the many qualities, traits and characteristics that we can use to bring our humanity to life. They are not all positive, but that’s part of their power. Things like our fears, biases and failures are part of being human, so we need to acknowledge them.
Putting this into action in your world
The keys to bringing our Essence to life are Empathy, Vulnerability and Intention. So it’s less about content and more about making the time and space to connect. That sets the foundation for genuine growth and learning, and ultimately commercial success.
I believe this shift to be extraordinarily empowering. For too long we have over-praised and over-promoted intelligence alone. The conditions are now ripe for anyone with the courage to bring all of themselves to the party to succeed. Indeed it’s an imperative.
So what are you waiting for? It’s your TIME TO SHINE