The era of the self-help guru is changing. Most of the people who read a self-help book, study an online program, or attend a leadership training fail to see any real tangible results or change, according to Psychology Today. What works is when people get the support they need. The three major trends for leaders who want to grow their people are: (1) human connection, (2) remote teamwork, and (3) peer learning. There is a solution that delivers all of that.
What Isn’t Working
Today, more than ever, leaders realize they have to connect with what their people are going through. Authentic empathy, however, cannot be taught as a tactic. It is an experience that only fully emerges by making it safe to be open, and to feel another person’s pain. We may get fooled into assuming those on the other end of the video line are engaged, just because they agree on a proposed course of action. Remote teamwork, however, only thrives when people feel deeply valued by each other. While we may want to live up the models and ideals of an admired expert, actually changing a habit only happens when our peers hold us accountable. A cool new perspective is not the same as seeing reality clearly.
Mutual Empowerment Online
We see this all the time in our online groups of five. When they feel empowered, when they are held in positive regard, people connect naturally and deeply. It is incredible how quickly it happens! No coach telling them how to be empathetic. Just each individual exploring their own challenges with humility and courage, and sharing their direct experiences with each other. In spite of (or because of) differing circumstances and skillsets, we learn so much from supporting the growth in another.
We become personally invested in their success, even if we have never met in person. This is genuine engagement. Engagement of the heart. That comes not so much because we have been charismatically inspired to align on a great mission, but because we find ourselves caring about a colleague realizing their potential.
A More Empowered Future
No doubt, as a culture we will continue to worship celebrity and pay $300K per speech for the most admired motivational authority. No doubt, employers will continue to hire executive coaches and individuals will continue to value the support of life coaches and therapists. No doubt, leaders will continue to convene large-group sessions to identify a problem and present their strategies. In the midst of all that, however, something else is happening.
People want to help each other. People are getting encouraged and inspired by each other. Empowered people are motivated because they feel valued by their colleagues. Open because they have a place where it is safe to be honest. They collaborate to create cross-functional solutions. Empowered people bring change.
I believe we are at a tipping point right now. A tipping point happens when a new solution becomes more effective and accessible than the incumbent methodology, just as key influencers see the need more clearly and value the benefits as more important than previously realized. Leaders from every country and every field of endeavor are experiencing the difference mutual empowerment can make. Experiencing it for themselves. Many CEOs have peer forums where they access these benefits. I believe for this next phase it is vital that all their direct reports—those leading on the ground—have the opportunity to participate in mutually empowering peer groups, probably online, that deliver the deep trust of being unconditionally valued and unvarnished truth no matter how gnarly your challenges. Mutual empowerment is easy to propagate once you have had the full potency of the experience.