When we hear the word “quantum,” we often think about historic figures like Albert Einstein and his various contributions to quantum theory, specifically through the vehicle of physics.
In the simplest of terms, quantum refers to the minimum amount of energy required to produce a change or the minimum value of any physical property in an interaction.
So, how does quantum apply to leadership?
In leadership and our approach to how we lead, this means we are being called to consider how we can focus less on what we need to do and more on who and how we need to be. Furthermore, it asks how we can create environments that allow and encourage this for others to practice as well.
It is not in our doing that we make the largest and greatest impact, it is in our being that we accomplish this.
Let’s take the example of empathy. There are literally hundreds of articles written about empathy and leadership. Most zero in on the importance of leaders showing empathy and what they need to do to demonstrate this quality. Empathy, however, is an innate trait, which means it’s an inborn quality. We all have the natural capacity for empathy hard-wired in us, and developing it is something that starts within and is supported and fostered through our environments.
Therefore, if empathy is considered a necessary interpersonal skill, we can see that honing our intrapersonal abilities to understand and manage how we feel, deal with, and give meaning to our reality comes first.
We don’t start with taking measures to come across more empathetically, we begin by developing the mechanisms within us that are responsible for allowing our empathy to strengthen. The result will be that others experience us as more empathetic because we will be embodying this value more.
If leaders are required to demonstrate empathy through their words and deeds, quantum leaders get to personify this trait and build cultures where their people are challenged and supported to develop their own empathy as well.
They say we call for what we need most. Whoever is banging the empathy drum loudest is the one who needs to be practicing it most. If this is true, we all get to look in on this one and see where we get to do the necessary inner work.
As Gandhi once said, “be the change you wish to see in the world.”
What’s needed for one is needed for the many.
The idea of Quantum Leadership shows us that it takes far less energy to make changes within ourselves than it does to enforce changes in others and the relationships we have with one another. It is worth mentioning, too, that it is the only place any of us have true control to make real change happen.
A choice occurs in an instant. Every decision we make impacts our thoughts, feelings, actions and outcomes. Quantum Leadership asks each of us, as leaders, to focus on the necessary choices to make the changes within ourselves to inspire the largest impact around us.
Quantum Leadership is about applying less focus and energy to what we need to do to fix the systems, cultures and employee experiences and putting our focus and energy, instead, into making the personal changes necessary to be the leaders who will naturally support the experiences we all wish to have for ourselves and with one another.
Doing less for those around us and supporting them to do more for themselves is an essential place to start. Simply seeing to the needs of others doesn’t create lasting, positive change. “Teach a man to fish,” they say, “don’t give him a fish.” As leaders, we begin doing this for ourselves in order to have the capacity to model it for others.
When I conduct my client sessions by phone, it allows those with whom I’m working to be alone with themselves as we work, while I provide a safe and supportive place for them to discover what they determine they need most.
What clients often marvel at, after only a few months of coaching, is how insignificant the need to be in the same space or even see one another truly is in building a bond and deep sense of trust and support.
This is because our energy is about what we are currently embodying. If we are in a state of being joyful, trustworthy and empathetic, this will be sensed by others. It is not first about what we do, but about what and how we are choosing to be that matters most.
When it comes to the application of this, I recently published an article in Brainz Magazine about how we can begin to access our head, heart and gut brains to develop our inner potential. It is in this growth and expansion of self-capacity that we can tap, more fully, into our ability to be full-fledged Quantum Leaders.