Thought leadership by Lumina Learning CEO, Dr Stewart Desson
Being a leader has never been more challenging than it is today. The vast availability of research and advice on how to lead teams and organisations has mushroomed over the last decade. We could all be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed with the richness of information an internet connected world provides for us.
However, what is still in short supply is a leader’s ability to deeply connect at a human level with their teams. In fact, deep connections are a prerequisite for impactful communication in leadership. In even shorter supply are leaders that can combine this with a passion to co-create with all their stakeholders.
An ability to form deeper connections and co-create ensures leaders take a fundamentally relational approach in order to close the gap between their well-intended communications and the actual impact they have on others.
The 4 Lumina Spark principles, when applied using our 24 quality Lumina Spark personality model, significantly helps leaders close the leadership gap that exists between their intentions and the actual impact they have.
Lumina Spark 4 Principles
All good leaders know that at their core they are expert communicators. Interestingly, it turns out that to communicate well, we actually have to start by turning our attention inward in order to claim our sense of purpose and increase our self- knowledge.
These principles form an ‘up hierarchy’, whereby the principles at the lower level of the pyramid are mastered before moving up to the next level.
At the base of the pyramid, the first principle is ‘Self- Knowledge’. This is the foundation stone that underpins effective 21st-century organisations. Raising self-awareness is the first step for working effectively with others and the key trait for top leaders and teams. The understanding of self and others is deepened by appreciating the range of personalities, strengths, work styles, and communication preferences in the team.
The second principle is that of ‘Valuing Diversity’ and enables respect for each individual and the contributions they make to the organisation. Generating an inclusive environment increases motivation, positive engagement, and greater confidence in self-development. Every stakeholder in the organisation can become more authentic, open, and confident in the knowledge that they are valued as unique human beings.
The third principle is termed ‘Building Rapport’ and enhances workplace connections and influence. Understanding and adapting to others’ communication styles is the key to building closer and more trusting relationships with colleagues and clients. This essential component for organisational productivity ensures that time is no longer wasted on miscommunications, negative assumptions and stressful personality conflicts. Everyone’s energy can be focused on completing the task in hand.
At the top of the pyramid is the principle of ‘Co-Creating Results’ – the final step in creating a thriving work environment to drive positive productivity. There is extensive evidence that real collaboration, built on the strengths of diverse thinking, open communication, and strong relationships gives consistently better results. Silos are broken down and each stakeholder contributes his/her best in bringing projects to successful completion.
Each of these 4 steps can be best applied through a leader’s understanding of their 24 qualities displayed on the Lumina Spark Mandala. A leader’s communication style is effectively displayed as a painted splash on the mandala, as shown below.
Lumina Spark 24 Quality Mandala
Figure 1‑2 Lumina Spark 24 Quality Mandala
Fundamental to leaders working with all 4 of the principles, is the need for self-knowledge using the Lumina Spark mandala – a modern and evidence-based model of personality. With 24 qualities around the outer rim, the Lumina Spark mandala allows us to understand which of our instinctive underlying qualities are fundamental to our being. It also enables us to see which qualities are most appropriate for us to express based on who we are with and the given context.
How does this help leaders close the gap between their good intentions and their actual impact?
Firstly, the Lumina Spark approach helps leaders take a humanistic approach – viewing people as “human beings” rather than “human doings”, and so helps them transform their organisation’s performance by transforming their people.
Secondly, the model helps leaders view themselves and others without bias. No labelling, boxing, or stereotyping. Leaders have a tool to understand their whole way of being; to explore their potential without limits.
Thirdly, this approach fundamentally avoids false dichotomies. With Lumina Spark, individuals are not simply extraverted or introverted, not just a thinker or a feeler. Unlike other approaches, Lumina Spark shows leaders how to work with all aspects of their personality. In a nutshell, it helps people embrace the paradox of who they really are and better support their performance improvement.
Finally, this approach measures three parts of who a leader is (we call them ‘personas’) – the Underlying, Everyday, and Overextended you. This helps individuals understand the full dynamic of their personality. The three personas are presented in an easily grasped graphical format that helps people quickly make sense of themselves and take meaningful action.
By practising these 4 principles, informed by knowledge of one’s own and other’s Lumina Spark qualities, the leadership communication gap is closed. Heightened self-awareness and the ability to read the personality of others means leaders can intelligently select the most effective communication style in any given context. Leaders can better gauge how they are being perceived and adjust accordingly, as well as cater to the needs of those with whom they are communicating. This results in a deeper connection at a human level and is vital for understanding the conditions needed for high-quality co-creation. Doing this aligns a leader’s true intentions with their actual impact.
What does this look like in practice? What benefits will you see? Check out our case study in which Lumina Spark was used to develop the leadership skills of 600 line managers for NG Bailey, a leading UK independent construction firm.