Almost all leaders want to get better results, and most leaders are prepared to learn new practices to unlock performance. Ultimately, the ability to energize high performance in an organization requires an inner shift, however there are simple day-to-day leadership practices that can be used to start this journey.

Evolutionary Leadership is the kind of leadership required to lead the evolution of people and organizations. By developing the qualities of an Evolutionary Leader, you can maximize performance, innovation, and employee engagement. We’ve developed six fundamental Evolutionary Leadership Practices to support you on your journey. 

Evolutionary Leadership Practices

Committing yourself to these Evolutionary Leadership Practices will help you embody the qualities of an Evolutionary Leader. These practices require some inner growth, so it’s important to remember that it’s a step-by-step journey.

The Evolutionary Leadership Practices are:

  1. Treat everyone as a volunteer
  2. Don’t give another order
  3. Take care of people
  4. Listen first, talk second
  5. Learn to share power
  6. Model a learning mindset

Let’s look at each of these practices more closely.

1. Treat Everyone as a Volunteer

The first Evolutionary Leadership Practice is to treat everyone like a volunteer. When we have authority over people, we can tell people what to do. When we chose not to use that authority and say, “If this person is a volunteer, they can be here or not, it’s their choice. They don’t have to do what I tell them. How would I engage with them? How do I interact with them?” This simple change in mindset will unlock a totally different view of yourself and the other person. Your leadership cultivates respect and appreciation for your people, a sense of gratitude transpires, healthier relationships can move an organization further and faster by working together.

2. Don’t Give Another Order

Okay, maybe “not giving another order” isn’t very realistic. But the idea is, If you’re the boss, stop giving so many orders and start empowering others to make decisions. If you want to build leaders around you, invite employees to be leaders themselves. This comes from Turn the Ship Around! by L. David Marquet.

For example, you could say, “Hey, what do you think we need to do now? What do you think is important that we work on as a business?” Collaborate and co-create with them. If everyone puts their thoughts together to come up with a solution, you can just say, “Hey, that sounds like a good idea.” And suddenly, your team is energized and the people around you are creating the organizational success you hoped for without you actually giving an order.

3. Take Care of People (They’ll Take Care of the Tactics)

If you’re a boss, you’ve probably fallen in the trap of short-term firefighting--focusing on tactical things like project delivery. Really great leaders understand that it’s the people that fuel the organization’s success, so they spend a lot of their time and energy taking care of their employees. Their daily focus is on things like, “Is this environment set up for success? Do people have what they need? Are people engaged and motivated? Have I done my work as a leader to create a great environment for people?”

Leading Beyond Change

Thus, the third evolutionary leadership practice is to focus on the growth and development of other people in your organization. Because the secret for high-performance organizations is that there are leaders at all levels of the organization. The ultimate goal of a leader is to build other leaders around them, so collectively they can create an amazing organizational system that builds amazing results from high performance.

4. Listen First, Talk Second. 

A really great goal for a leader is to listen 80% of the time and talk 20% of the time. It’s a very simple leadership practice, but it’s hard for a lot of leaders to make this shift. Every time that you want to share your idea, just say, “Hey, I’ve got some ideas. Can you share yours first please?” What this does is it taps into a tactical property called “Equal Voice,” which supports people’s psychological safety and has them feel heard and valued.

5. Learn to Share Power

There’s a vast technology that we created called the Paradox of Power. It comes down to this: how to use power sparingly and effectively and when needed. 

If we use too much power, there’s disengagement and disempowerment. If we use too little power, we don’t give enough structure or set up the space effectively, we’ll also see disengagement. The effective use of power is in the middle, the Paradox of Power. It’s how to use power effectively to give enough structure and context and at the same time only give direction and advice where actually needed.

6. Model a Learning Mindset

One simple leadership practice is to go around to the people who are reporting to you and say, “Hey, I’d like to be a better leader. What are some of the things that I do right now that are disengaging, difficult, or uncomfortable for you?” 

Of course, people may be a bit reserved at first, but when you genuinely say, “Hey, I really want to learn. I know probably the things I’m doing right now that aren’t working very well, can you please let me know what some of them are?” That act alone is a very powerful act of leadership. The key, of course, is to listen and not push back or try to explain yourself. Just take their feedback and make a plan for how you will implement it.

Leadership Practices Are a Journey

Leadership is a journey of growth. A deep exploration of how you are showing up and how you impact the organization you are working with. Evolutionary Leadership takes your leadership journey a step further and can accelerate your growth. It takes desire and courage to reach far into the depths of your being to have honest awareness of the reality of your behaviors.

Evolutionary Leadership is a choice to show up as a very different type of leader. One who is conscious and willing to do the hard work of leadership. The journey is a profound rollercoaster, yet worth the ride. Your journey will impact your personal and professional life, creating authentic connection, positive influence and the ability to guide others in their evolutionary journey. Perhaps changing lives in ways that you can not yet possibly imagine.

Support for Evolutionary Leadership Practice

This is where we talk about our programs, opportunities for people to go deeper.

Having trained thousands of leaders worldwide, we understand that while this is an incredibly rewarding journey, it is only for those who are interested in realizing the extraordinary. It’s not just about knowing what one should do… instead, making a successful shift requires an upgrade to your mindset and an integration of practices into daily work. We offer both self-paced and live training to support those ready to make the journey.

Leading Beyond Change