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Mic Drop Moments of 2023!

Updated: Dec 19, 2023

Sometimes learning is subtle, and sometimes it hits you soul-deep. Rather than giving the typical highlights reel of a year at Leading Elephants, we wanted to share some of the learnings that resonated with our community, and also share how much our community taught us in return.

As we look back at our lessons in 2023, we hold such gratitude for how this work teaches and transforms us at the same time as we are serving others. So many of these lessons are learned in working alongside incredible partners and consultants. So as we share this, we also want to give credit to all of those that expand our wisdom and capacity over the course of the year.

Without further ado, please join us for celebrating the mic drops of 2023.

🎤 Feedback is Not Criticism, Its Care.

This year, we refined our philosophy on feedback. Feedback is an essential building block of successful, collaborative, and satisfied teams because feedback, when done well, stands as a powerful catalyst for growth, innovation, and improved relationships. Feedback is not just about providing constructive criticism or even praise—it's about building and nurturing relationships.

But why then is feedback still proving to be a challenging aspect of management for many leaders?

As humans, we are wired to amplify risks, especially when it comes to giving feedback. The fear of being misunderstood, causing discomfort, or damaging a relationship can loom larger than the potential benefits of constructive criticism. We can feel the urge to protect ourselves and maximizing our safety. But this minimizes the cost of staying with the status quo where nothing grows and situations don’t improve.

The first step towards overcoming these challenges is increasing our consciousness of them. By acknowledging the internal barriers that hinder feedback, we can pause and reflect before succumbing to the fear of potential consequences. This heightened awareness allows us to navigate conversations more mindfully, creating space for genuine, impactful feedback. Courage and care are the antidotes to this fear, and play a pivotal role in fostering a culture of open feedback among diverse teams. By cultivating the courage to address discomfort and potential conflicts head-on, we create an environment where pinches- those conversations that “felt off”- are unraveled, and relationships can evolve and strengthen.

Giving feedback is hardly ever without complexity- whether power dynamics, difference in identity, and preferences are at play. However, there are ways leaders can learn to give feedback that make an impact. Practicing giving feedback frequently, having scheduled feedback rituals, allowing ourselves to move with Silver Standard Feedback (rather than perfect moments) are ways leaders can begin to show their teams they care about their growth and want to be in an ongoing dialogue with them.

🎤 Change is about Transformation… and Transformation is a Choice.

With all things, change is the catalyst for transformation- a powerful force that invites us to reshape our behaviors, challenge our underlying beliefs, and requires that we adapt to a new reality. And as much as it strains our human brains that love routine and shortcuts, real change asks that we dig deep- beyond superficial adjustments- for a profound, inner metamorphosis. This fact stamps change as a deeply personal journey for us all, even when we take it with others.

Often we talk about this with leaders to remind themselves that they can’t force change. But it also is the key for each of us in our professional journeys.

Rather than perceiving change as an external force acting upon us, we can choose to view it as an opportunity for empowerment, action, and growth. The crux of transformation lies in recognizing that no one can force us to alter our behaviors and beliefs; this power to act resides within us. When things are in flux, we have more power, agency, and influence than we might imagine. We just have to recognize it and use it for the good of our teams.

As individual members within teams undergoing change, it's essential to acknowledge that it's okay to have feelings about the change. After all, every change, no matter how necessary, can challenge what we hold dear. But it's equally important to let these feelings fuel our power to act and influence the change positively, rather than criticize from the sidelines.

Regardless of our position, role, or vantage point, we all possess the ability to be active participants in the change if we choose to be. Our orientation and attitude wield the remarkable power to either shift atmospheres towards creativity and innovation or contribute to their decline. If we embrace change as a dynamic force opening the door to personal and professional evolution, transformation holds the potential to redefine our journey and influence the environments around us. That is at the heart of true leadership.

🎤 "I'm for you" and the power of relationships - A North Star for Embracing a Growing Team.

Successfully managing diverse teams requires a delicate balance between clarity and curiosity, infused with cultural humility. We learned that sharing what we know, what we're thinking, and why, is crucial for fostering transparency and understanding. Equally important is maintaining a sense of curiosity- an eagerness to learn about each other's perspectives and lived experiences. While we might not fully comprehend someone else's journey, being genuinely inquisitive about others bridges gaps and cultivates an environment of respect and appreciation.

These three C’s of clarity, curiosity, and cultural humility have resonated deeply with our clients. But they also have been some of the most powerful drivers of our growth as a team at Leading Elephants.

One significant milestone in our company’s transformation came as we expanded our team to a broad set of contributors in 2023. The addition of members from different backgrounds, cultures, and even geography broadened our collective perspective and ignited insightful multi-racial conversations. We discovered that the richness of our new normal grew exponentially as we set out to live those three C’s ourselves.

Investing in each other emerged as a powerful motivation that shaped our interactions. We grew individually and collectively as we made room for each team member’s development. This approach wasn't just about professional development; it was about creating an environment where everyone felt valued, heard, and given the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the team's success. We learned how to give feedback with a posture of “I’m for You”... (a term coined by our colleague, Cosette Strong) that reinforced our investment in one another. The result was a team that didn't just work together but one that thrives together.

Perhaps the most profound lesson learned over this year was the undeniable impact of continual work on our relationships. Our commitment to understanding, supporting, and investing in each other paid off in so many ways. It seeped into the very fabric of our team, creating a culture at Leading Elephants where individuals are not just colleagues but partners on a shared journey.

Here's to another year of growth, collaboration, and the beautiful tapestry of diversity that defines us. 🎉

🎤 Set a Goal So Big You Can’t Achieve it Until You Grow into the Organization Who Can.

This year, we went on a listening tour to learn from our clients and colleagues in the field, and we set out to meet the invitations we heard.

We heard that there is a community hungering to bring both belonging and impact to their workplaces. And there is a space for providers like Leading Elephants to partner there. We heard that at our best, we can bring a critical mass of capacity and effective frameworks to catalyze transformation in organizations, teams, and leaders. And that it takes a team that is wise, attuned, and compassionate to really make a difference.

We are so grateful for the insight from these dialogues. And we are both humbled and energized to keep at it, and we reaffirm our commitment to excellence, innovation, and creating positive change in our community.

We have already seen powerful lessons with a modified offering of our signature Leading Inclusive Change series in which we designed for more customization to meet people wherever they may be. Doing justice to the feedback was a call to stretch - to expand our team of designers and facilitators, to get smarter operationally, allow for flexibility, and tell our stories in new ways.

In other words, leading this work on change has changed US. And we know there is more to come.

We are honored by the trust this community puts in us and the investment we experience in this beautiful symbiotic relationship. We are so grateful for the people we get to work with that make us smarter and bring us these mic drops along the way. And we look toward the future with enthusiasm.

Our mission remains steadfast: to create a compassionate, human-centered world where all people can thrive. We hope as you continue to engage with us, our mission becomes a shared vision for us all.


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