The Three Essential Components You Must Demonstrate
Humans can change. They have within themselves vast resources for self-understanding and for altering their self-concepts, basic attitudes, and self-directed behavior. Humans can access these resources if a relationship climate, with three conditions, exists. There are three attitudes or conditions that will facilitate the thinking and feelings necessary for personal change and growth. These three conditions apply in all human relationships in which the development of the person is a goal, whether with a boss and employee, a parent and child, a leader and group, a coach and client, a couple or two friends.
The First Condition or Characteristic is authenticity. It can be called genuineness, realness, or congruence.
Using a leader/follower example, the more the leader is himself or herself in the relationship, putting up no professional front or personal façade, the greater is the likelihood that the follower will change and grow in a constructive manner. This means the leader is openly being the feelings and attitudes that are flowing within at the moment. This is seen as being transparent. The follower can see what the leader is in the relationship.
The second condition or attitude of importance in creating a climate for change is acceptance, or caring, or prizing. Carl Rogers calls it “unconditional positive regard.” In our example, the leader allows and accepts how the follower is being in the moment. If the follower is being upset, defensive, fearful, prideful, or whatever, the leader allows it and accepts the follower’s way of being. Rather than the leader having conditions for what behaviors or ways of being are acceptable, the leader prizes the follower in a total rather than a conditional way. This creates a feeling of acceptance in the follower.
The third facilitative characteristic of the growth-promoting climate is empathic understanding. The leader here demonstrates the ability to accurately sense the feelings and personal meanings that the follower is experiencing and communicates this understanding to the follower. When functioning best, the leader is so much inside the private world of the other that the leader can clarify not only the meanings of which the follower is aware but even those just below the level of awareness. This kind of sensitive, active listening is exceedingly rare in our lives. We think we listen, but very rarely do we listen with real understanding, true empathy. Yes listening, of this very special kind, is one of the most potent forces for change.
How Do These Three Conditions Create a Climate for Change Work Together?
As persons are accepted and prized, they tend to develop a more caring attitude toward themselves. As persons are empathically heard, it becomes possible for them to listen more accurately to the flow of inner experiences and the self becomes more congruent with the experiences. The person thus becomes more real, more genuine. The tendencies, which match the leader’s attitudes, enable the follower to be a more effective growth-enhancer. There is a greater freedom to be a true, whole person.
Empowering leaders are those who continue to expand their self-awareness and the awareness of other people so that their conscious choices allow the leader to be authentic, accepting, and empathetic with followers. These characteristics form the conditions that empower the leader to lead people and organizations to changes that are necessary to meet client, stakeholder, and market demands.
Teach others and show them. Lead the way.