Lead. Follow. Or…

Lead. Follow. Or...

In his latest book, “You Lead: How Being Yourself Makes You A Better Leader,” award-winning author, podcast host and thought leader Minter Dial argues that business leaders deliver superior results, communities of engagement both inside and outside of the company and true values-driven success when they are themselves and come across as genuine.

Dial says the book delivers a call to arms mindset into the leadership process-one that relies on bringing one’s whole self into the process and engaging in human ways. If leaders can stop pretending to be who they are not and play on their uniqueness and strengths, they will enable others to do the same-culminating in a reignition of their company’s culture of authenticity and purpose.

“People tend to gravitate toward quick solutions and practical tips,” says Dial, who worked as a top executive at L’Oreal, where he was a member of the worldwide Executive Committee for the Professional Products Division. “I am more inclined to look at teaching people to fish, rather than directly handing over a fish to the hungry. There is a school of thought that a leader is responsible for injecting energy and motivating the team. But the ability to rally the troops time and again correlates to the groundwork established in advance.”

The secret sauce that Dial has been applying during these difficult times is to encourage meaningful conversations and to spread the power of deep listening. To do this, he runs Empathy Circles-structured dialogues that not only give people the ability to listen, but afford them to meet in a novel way that ignites energy. “At the end of the day, each person must be responsible for generating his or her own energy.”

As a Hispanic and architect in an industry where only a small percentage of executives are women, Maria Guerra-Stoll understands the important part cultural awareness plays in selling a message. The CEO of GSB Architects works hard to make sure this awareness is prevalent in the healthcare facilities she helps design, including making sure there is multilingual signage, and that her designs use color palettes that make people of various backgrounds feel welcome.

“I practice a multicultural approach to all clients that I serve,” Guerra-Stoll says.

For example, she hires multicultural employees who can bring a variety of perspectives, styles and varied expertise to the design process. She also works closely with her clients to get to know the audiences she is designing for. “By validating my recommendations and designs with a focus group of various patients with varied backgrounds, we make the process more concise and keep everything on point.”

Dial says that the challenge of keeping everyone on board with a company’s mission is that it is easy to get knocked off course. The degree of difficulty also varies according to the governance model in place. “The real key to keeping the sense of purpose on track is to make sure that each employee is doing things that matter to them, especially when the environment is challenging like it is now. It’s important to keep an eye on everyone’s energy levels. You must make room and time to dial into each person’s context and feelings, and to check in on how they feel and what is meaningful.”

It is just part of the strategy that keeps everyone and everything on the same page and drives your success forward.

This article appears in the May/June 2021 issue of Connect magazine published by NextPage, which can be found online here. If you would like a free print subscription to Connect, please click here.