Integrated Leadership – become more yourself

Can an introverted individual be a charismatic leader? Yes of course, but only on the basisthat they can actually be themselves. The key to effective leadership is integrating and aligning your actions with your values. If the leader truly believes in what they are doing, the team will be more willing and able to follow to achieve the highest possible goal. However, it is worth mentioning that it is not the goal itself but the ‘way’ which will be the main motivator. 
Heart or mind?
Philosophers and scientists have been trying to answer this question for years. The research on authoritarian leadership, published earlier this year, is yet another attempt at resolving the age-old dilemma: does an effective leader base their position on emotions or on strictly rational basis? They analysed the responses of several hundred leaders and their subordinates from selected Japanese institutions. The observations from the study were unequivocal: authoritarian superiors created  an atmosphere of suppressing emotions in their teams, which negatively affected the efficiency of the entire team. Importantly, the more the leader suffocated their own feelings, the more
their approach is copied by the rest of the team. The study of Japanese scholars does not provide a clear answer to the question about the possible primacy of feelings over reason (or vice versa). Instead, it points to a key aspect of leadership: the leader’s authenticity, that is, his internal integration of mind with heart and soul.

Integration is the key to success

Simply put, integrated leadership is a situation in which a person (leader) is in harmony with themself, genuinely aware of their own aspirations, needs, opportunities and values. This starting point also allows them to clearly see and understand the realities in which they functions. They not only understands the processes taking place in the organization and its market environment, but is able to respond to them with full awareness of their intentions, knowledge and capabilities, as well as predict how his / her actions will affect colleagues, clients and the entire environment. Such a conscious attitude determines all of their. The integration of the leader will certainly not escape the team’s attention. The subordinates are even more likely to fit into the plan, because they trust the leader who “knows what they are doing” (or rather “believes in what they are doing”, because it is not about ordinary knowledge). It provides employees with a sense of security, which is one of the basic needs of us all. The entire organization benefits from the integrated leadership of individual people, which undoubtedly translates into higher productivity and achievement of the set goals. Against the silos In many companies and institutions, we are witnessing the strengthening of the “anti-silo” approach, i.e. breaking down barriers between departments, teams, practitioners and other organizational units. People intuitively feel that being locked in a rigid formal framework of departments, processes and procedures, they lose a lot of their productivity and creativity. Therefore, going beyond silos should be interpreted as an unambiguously positive trend and often the first step towards organizational transformation. Nevertheless, experience shows that there is no chance for a permanent change in an organization, if it is not done at the personal level at the same time. It is hard to imagine leaders that integrate organizations and teams on a sustainable and healthy basis if they are not themselves integrated on a personal level. Integrated leadership in the individual dimension means the professional and life maturity of a given person who makes conscious and responsible decisions that affect himself, his team, the entire company, and the broadly understood market environment. Such attitudes have recently been observed in the so-called “turquoise organizations”, which assume that each team member takes full responsibility for themselves, their actions and for the organization without the need for external control and guidance. For this to be possible, members of these organizations need to be truly mature people who operate on the basis of trust and respect for themselves and the world.

Integrated leadership for uncertain times

Leaders with a high degree of personal integration are important not only in ensuring the company’s growth; sometimes it is even about the survival of the organization. Faced with the dangers of COVID-19, we all feel the need for greater stability. And nothing gives greater confidence than the leaders’ peace of mind and their confidence in action. A stabilized leader will give the necessary sense of security and help the team to adapt in an agile way to situations of uncertainty or threat. What kind of leadership does an organization need, especially in difficult market conditions?

Characteristics of an integrated leader:

  • Those who act in a concentrated, targeted manner and at the same time flexibly reacts to changes in the internal and external environment
  • Is aware of their competences and shortcomings (in business and interpersonal areas)
  • Is aware of their influence on others and understands their reactions, emotions, thoughts, actions theytake in response to the behavior and attitudes of others and market information
  • Takes full responsibility for their decisions and actions
  • Acts with respect for themselves, their people and those around them,
  • Is courageous and ready to make changes in the organization and themself.

Especially the last aspect has recently gained a key importance. The foundation of the organization’s success is the combination of leadership development and business transformation. It is impossible to shift an organization onto a new course without changing those who run it. Therefore, a change in a company begins with strengthening the internal integration of its leaders.

Born leaders?

True leaders are those who have a higher or lower degree of internal leadership cohesion. Of course, they are influenced by certain innate predispositions, but here is the good news: you can work on raising integrated leadership! Its actually essential if we wish to work alongside others responsibly. To some extent, this process happens incidentally as we mature as human beings and we mature as leaders. At the same time, the ability to reflect on one’s life and professional experience is crucial.

How to start strengthening your Integrated Leadership?

  1. Build self-awareness – identify your strengths and weaknesses, analyze yourself and your team from this angle; plan which strengths you can build on and which areas do you believe you still need to work on
  2. Identify your influence on the environment – you must have a full understanding of what the driving forces are behind your attitudes, words and actions and how they affect you and other people around you
  3. Search for conclusions and feedback – analyze experiences and situations to know what their sense is, to draw conclusions from them for the future; collaborate with a coach or mentor; seek feedback from your colleagues. Feedback is a key tool for you to find out how people perceive your actions and your intentions behind them.

The confrontation of your perception and that of other people is the litmus test of your integration. In the case of leaders who are consistent with themselves and their values, their environment does not have to ask themselves questions about the intentions of the leader. These are completely clear because they are consistent with what they think, feel and do. Integrated leadership is effective because is authentic, it comes from yourself, as opposed to pretending someone else. A leader who is in harmony with himself emanates peace, competence and joy, which can be used to successfully build his credibility and sense of security in the team. Consequently, trust on the part of the team, which directly translates into its greater commitment, conviction about the strategy and readiness to implement it.

Self-test (5 questions) – the clarity in your answers will gauge where you are in relation to your own level of integrated leadership:

  1. What are your core values? What situations in your life have shaped the choice of these values?
  2. What is the main driver of your professional activities? What are your main needs at work?
  3. Why you are in leadership role, what is your bigger leadership purpose and what do you get out of it?
  4. What kind of relationships do you create with colleagues, clients, the environment – what do people say about working with you?
  5. To what extent is what you think about yourself consistent with what others say about you?

Małgorzata Tomaszewska

Photo from Unsplash