How can companies develop powerful leaders? Dr. Nicole Lipkin, CEO of Equilibria Leadership Consulting, has focused on this goal for the past 14 years as an international keynote speaker, organizational psychologist and coach. She is also the author of What Keeps Leaders Up At Night and Y in the Workplace: Managing the “Me First” Generation.
Here are some of Dr. Nicole Lipkin‘s insights, revealing the way she blends the science of human behavior with practical approaches to business and leadership:
How can women build their confidence to achieve success in the business world and as leaders? Confidence stems from an understanding of what you bring to the table. We need to nurture ourselves as much as we nurture others. We need to create space in our lives to think and create, for positive self-reflection. Once we remove the distractions and the negative voices in our heads, the chatter from the people around us, we can see what we need to do and where we need to go with laser vision. You need space, self-compassion and the ability to quiet the chatter. If we don’t have the ability to do this for ourselves then we need a coach, therapist or mentor to help us along. Seeking counsel is a sign of strength, leadership savvy and emotional intelligence.
How can we foster these qualities and skills in the next generation to increase the number of female CEOs? It starts with self-reflection: recognizing one’s strengths and weaknesses – and then working on our weaknesses, which can be thought of as an underdeveloped muscle. If you have a strong right bicep and a weak left bicep, you will always favor your right bicep when you are carrying bags, moving things, etc. Eventually, because you are overcompensating for that left bicep, you can tweak your neck and back and end up with some more problems and pain. So instead of ignoring it and overcompensating it, work on it, get help, hire a coach. I also recommend meditation, alone time, reading books by leaders in your field. It’s extremely valuable to learn from those who have done what you want to do or are where you would like to be, their mistakes, their words of inspiration and how they got from A to B. Read, watch videos, lectures, meet people, talk to others. As friends, coaches, mentors and family, we can act as partners to hold them accountable if/when they start to slide into an unproductive space.
During training sessions with clients, what are some recurring issues that companies need to address? Across the board, I have found that people struggle with giving and receiving feedback, which is at the core of our development. Feedback is tough because it sits at the intersection of who we are/how we see ourselves and our need to grow and develop. Given that we all see through different lenses and thus have different experiences of the world and each other, the art of giving and receiving feedback is rooted in science and interpersonal skills. When we work with companies and their leaders to help develop their feedback skills, we dive deep into the intersection of psychology, neuroscience and interpersonal dynamics. If you can unearth the internal triggers that arise during feedback sessions, then you can steer the conversation more productively. When you are armed with the why and the how, you can do the what much more fluidly.
Why does your company focus on “bringing human nature back to business”? Until the robots take over, it is human beings that do the work at our companies. Since it’s humans doing the work, we need to think about business and work from the human perspective. For a long time, business has operated under the umbrella of “it’s not personal, it’s business”; this has created an atmosphere in the business world that lacks compassion, caring and a recognition that those working for the business are human beings, with desires, goals, dreams and wishes. Our jobs are personal, even if they are for a business. So our motto of “bringing human nature back into business” is about teaching people about their own psychology, how the brain works and about group and team dynamics. Armed with this information, leaders can adjust, flex and navigate based on the individual they are working with, tapping into the human nature of the individual.
What are a few of the problems keeping leaders up at night? There are so many, but, at the end of the day, it’s the nagging interpersonal – and intrapersonal – things that happen day in and day out, including:
“Did I say something wrong to so and so?”
“How do I lead this team that is so resistant to change?”
“This person is driving me nuts, and I really don’t like working with him/her, what can I do about it?”
“Will my competitor get to market quicker, and if so, what’s wrong with me and my team that we can’t get on this quicker, faster, better?”
Interpersonal dynamics, making money, keeping everyone happy, details, dotted i’s and crossed t’s – it all adds up. Leaders have it all in their heads, rolling around, and it all comes down to people. Figuring out yourself, your people, your market, your competitors, your customers, how to surge ahead, being ahead of the game – it’s enough to keep anyone up at night.
What are some immediate steps they can take to resolve these issues? Do the work to understand yourself and the people you lead. The more we invest in our own self-awareness, the faster we develop as leaders. Hire a coach or join a group of people who are committed to self-exploration and leadership development, where you are constantly challenging yourself to look at situations, people and yourself from different angles.
Would you like to add any other points? Although this sounds like hard work, what’s the point in life if we aren’t committed to our own evolution? Life is short, so why not discover as much as you can about yourself and those around you? Embrace the journey in your own leadership development. Where you are today will be light years away from where you are tomorrow, and that’s super exciting, even if you are already a rock star to begin with!