George Kohlrieser has a deep conviction in the power of emotional bonding and what it can accomplish. The international bestselling author of Hostage at the Table and Care to Dare: Unleashing Astonishing Potential Through Secure Base Leadership has worked with police, military and humanitarian organizations around the world teaching crisis negotiation. Additionally, he worked in a psychiatric hospital, teaching mental health specialists how to work with chronic schizophrenics. He brought his clinical psychology and crisis negotiation background into the world of executive education and corporate leadership training, founding the flagship High Performance Leadership program at IMD, Switzerland. He stresses that poor bonding skills is a significantly underrated cause of why many leaders fail.
Emotions matter. Getting to the heart of what really motivates people is what Kohlrieser learned as a hostage negotiator, and the same is true for effective leaders. The ability to build trust with others and create a positive mindset is a key leadership component. Leaders need to be able to see what is wrong without getting into a negative state. “The negative mindset is often resistant to change. The positive mindset is always looking for opportunities, looking for ways to learn,” said Kohlrieser. Like hostage negotiators, effective leaders create trust and offer choice, creating the conditions necessary for people to show their full potential, change their way of thinking, take risks, and be creative. “Mindset is the foundation of all leadership,” declared Kohlrieser.
Kohlrieser asked attendees of the 2015 World Business Forum in New York City to consider if they are living their dream. He believes great leaders know their calling and have discovered the vision and purpose that drives their personal leadership story. They stay positive even through the inevitable pain and sacrifice any journey requires. This positivity allows the transformation brought about by the learning from their experiences. They celebrate accomplishments and make the department/company/community world – something larger than themselves – a better place.
- Hunt for and develop talent
- Drive change
- Build high-performing teams
- Build a culture that supports high-performance
Supporting high-performance through culture is the great challenge. Fear is a great motivator and dominates people’s actions. To get the most out of people, they need to be free of fear. They need to be inspired to be creative, to live life to the fullest and to take risks. That freedom is born of trust. With trust, conflict becomes nothing more than a learning process and a necessary step toward creativity.
Great leaders are able to stop talking and ask questions. It is through questions and offering choices that leaders can re-wire themselves to become creators of trust.
Kohlrieser believes women tend to make better leaders, because they inherently connect in a different way than men. Woman are creators who learn to deal with conflict and how to push back. Men on the other hand are challenged by effectively bonding, handling emotions and being caring. For Kohlrieser, women have a head start when it comes to empathy, consecutiveness and forming interpersonal bonds.
Every leader must learn to deal with conflict. Turn the enemy into an ally. Kohlrieser likened it to cleaning a fish – a messy task, but necessary to make a great fish dinner. The great leaders can communicate their stories in ways that inspires individuals, teams and entire organizations. That communication begins with trust. Show yourself to be a real person, one who cares, and people will listen and follow you.
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