Dr. Patrick Jinks

Leadership Coach

Dr. Patrick Jinks

Dr. Patrick Jinks is a Board Certified Executive Coach. He was recognized as one of 2022’s Top 10 Most Influential People in Leadership Coaching by CIO Views because of his unique coaching approach in the social sector. He is a member of the Forbes Coaches Council and a teaching member of The Right Question Institute. He is a Certified Influencer Trainer through Vital Smarts — the collaborative that brought us Crucial Conversations. His Leadership Window Podcast is a FeedSpot® Global Top 10 show on social sector leadership. His speaking stages range from TEDx to The United Nations. He has authored or co-authored 3 bestsellers, winning an Editor’s Choice Award from the National Association of Experts, Writers, and Speakers.

The Simplicity of Leadership

Leadership is not that complicated. There. I said it. Did you feel a heavy weight lift from your shoulders? Or do you prefer basking in the mystique and prestige of having the most intricate job in the world? Well, I do not intend to insult your pride, nor to diminish the value of true leadership, but your job (at least the leadership aspect of it) is actually quite simple – not easy, but simple.

Before reinforcing my primary point, let me acknowledge that leadership CAN be complicated. I earned my PhD in Organizational Leadership in part by studying such factors as psychological self-determination, and the nuances between such leadership theories as agency, transaction, transformation, servanthood, stewardship, and ambiguity. There is even a more recent theory, Complexity Leadership Theory, that asserts the very intricacies of the adaptive systems leaders must navigate. One can go as deep down the rabbit hole as one desires. I enjoy a good academic and theoretical journey as much as the next glutton, but at some point, we must surface and actually lead. For that part, I prefer to keep it simple.

Let’s begin by compartmentalizing your work. When coaching CEOs, I have found it helpful to say it like this: As a CEO, you are not being paid to create budgets and org charts or to conduct board meetings, write grants, or secure investors. You aren’t even being paid to understand your industry. It is great if you are an expert in automotive design, mechanical engineering, banking, social impact, or light manufacturing. However, what they are really paying you for is to lead. So, along with all the tasks and projects on your “to-do” list, where are the leadership items? Where are you carving out intentional commitment to the leadership behaviors your people need to see from you?

I am not qualified to recommend strategies for cutting redundant costs, streamlining your IT or HR systems, integrating Six Sigma into your workflow, or executing a hostile business takeover. However, I do feel confident in urging you to pause and ask yourself the following simple leadership questions:

 1) What is my vision? My board’s vision? My team’s vision? Are these aligned?

 How am I casting compelling, inspiring images of success on a daily basis? What is the vision for the future? What about next year? What about next week? What about the next board meeting? How am I helping my people see not only what is over the horizon, but also what their very next step is and why?

2)  What am I doing to inspire my people? How am I leveraging their unique motivations to accomplish shared goals? How am I engaging them in a way that gives them fulfillment, growth, and success? How do I recognize and appreciate them? How am I modeling the culture?

3)  How am I empowering my people??  Where am I helping them growHow effectively am I equipping them to succeed? Do I merely delegate tasks, or do I delegate opportunity and significance? Do I micromanage my people? Or do I support them with the full autonomy to lead and perform?

You may notice that the above questions fall into three primary categories. Vision, inspiration, and empowerment. We have found in our coaching work that practically every aspect of leadership, including challenging concepts like managing conflict, falls somewhere in these 3 areas. We have also found that when leaders remain watchful for the numerous windows of opportunity to thrive in any or all of these areas, they lead more effectively. Sometimes, these windows of opportunity present themselves, and we simply must recognize them and seize those moments. Most times, however, we must consciously create the windows. We do this by being as intentional about these leadership behaviors as we are with our numerous task and performance requirements.

Ask yourself:

  • Do I have a plan (or appointment) for sitting down with a key team member and having a conversation about shared vision?
  • Do I have a plan (or appointment) for inviting a team member or leader to take leadership of a specific project, area, or initiative?
  • Do I have a plan (or appointment) for showing outward gratitude and appreciation to a team member for their recent contributions?
  • Do I have a plan (or appointment) for exposing one or more of my team members to a skill-building experience that strengthens their competencies?

We could generate many more of these questions. The unfortunate truth is that we don’t. We don’t pause to think about our leadership intentions. If we did, we would discover leadership’s simplicity. It’s about your people, not your performance. In the end, leadership is indeed simple. Create an environment where your people can thrive toward shared success. Show them the path, inspire them to walk it, and empower them with the tools and autonomy they need to succeed.

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