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At some point, we all take a moment to look in the mirror. For the most part, we're met with a familiar reflection. Our appearance rarely startles us, as we've come to know what to expect.
There are various approaches to understanding leadership through the lens of mirrors and windows. Some believe that mirror-leaders focus on themselves, while window-leaders see beyond their own needs. However, I'd like to propose an alternative perspective.
Consider a leader who has influenced your life - someone who has motivated you and helped you grow. Reflect on the qualities that resonated with you and inspired you to emulate them. Did you feel that this leader truly understood you? Even if your viewpoints differed, did they respect your perspective? When discussing this with groups, the consensus usually revolves around the idea that these leaders genuinely "got" them, supported them, and acknowledged their point of view.
This connection is formed due to mirror neurons. These neurons, responsible for empathy, compassion, and a sense of belonging, are activated when we feel seen, heard, and connected with others.
Similar to gazing at our reflection, when we interact with leaders who mirror our values and beliefs, we know what to anticipate, and this familiarity fosters a sense of comfort. This comfort then stimulates the mirror neurons, reinforcing the bond.
Reputable business publications such as Forbes, Harvard Business Review, and The Economist consistently emphasize the importance of Leadership Empathy. As one theme states, "Empathy is an essential leadership skill… And there's nothing soft about it." Now, more than ever, fostering a sense of belonging is crucial. In this context, empathy serves as the mirror.
Take some time to consider how you can become the mirror that establishes a sense of "knowing and belonging" with those you lead, whether it's your team, family, or friends.
When looking out a window, what do you see? Does something new capture your attention? Windows offer diverse views, revealing fresh paths, opportunities, and approaches.
Start by embracing the role of a mirror-leader. Allow others to see you and view them without judgment, creating unity. Then, evolve into a window-leader. After establishing a shared understanding, stand together and look through the window to discover opportunities and possibilities.
By finding common ground and remaining open to different perspectives, we can foster innovation, creativity, and an enjoyable environment. By embodying the mirror-leader first and then the window-leader, we can pave incredible paths with others, opening doors to endless possibilities.
Ready to elevate your leadership skills? Check out our hybrid leadership masterclass, Awake Your Potential, to learn essential skills like leadership empathy and acquire tactical tools to enhance your personal and professional growth. Sign up to access a free module from the course here! Don't miss this opportunity to level up your leadership journey!
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