A transformation is taking place in organizations worldwide. Leadership practices are moving from authoritarian to collaborative, from control to empowerment, from hierarchical to network based, from fear-based to strength-based. Rather than focusing on what’s wrong, they learn about and build on what works. They are moving towards Appreciative Leadership.
Appreciative Leadership is a relational process, enabling people to come together and collaboratively make things happen. It is a positive worldview, based on the belief that every person, team and organization has positive potential. Appreciative Leadership strategies and practices harness that positive potential, turning it into positive power. Appreciative Leadership drives winning performance and creates thriving organizations and communities.
Appreciative Leadership involves five core strategies, enacted through a variety of personal, one-to-one, team and organizational practices:
- Inquiry lets people know that you value them and their contributions. When you ask people to share their thoughts and feelings— their stories of success or ideas for the future—and you sincerely listen to what they have to say, you are telling them, “I value you and your thinking.”
- Illumination helps people understand how they can best contribute. Through the practices of illumination, you can help people learn about their strengths and the strengths of others. You can give them confidence and encouragement to express themselves, take risks, and support others in working from their strengths.
- Inclusion gives people a sense of belonging. When you practice inclusion, you open the door for collaboration and co-creation. This, in turn, creates an environment in which people feel they are a part of something. When they feel part of something, they care for it.
- Inspiration provides people with a sense of direction. By forging a vision and path forward, you give people hope and unleash energy. These are the foundations for transformation, innovation and sustainable high performance.
- Integrity lets people know that they are expected to give their best for the greater good, and that they can trust others to do the same. When you lead with integrity, people know they can depend on you to connect them to the whole. Your example sets a standard for others to follow.
Excerpted from Appreciative Leadership
Whitney, Trosten-Bloom and Rader, 2010