Webster’s dictionary defines a catalyst as ‘an agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action.’ In business, a catalyst leader is no different. It is someone who ignites action in others. That stimulus might jump-start a change in an inefficient process, spawn a new idea for a new product, or most importantly, effect change in others.
Catalyst leaders are high-energy, supportive, forward-thinking mentors who spark action in the people around them. You know who I’m talking about because you’ve seen it in action. Some people are born inspirational. They are change makers. They instinctively know how to motivate. They effortlessly move people to action. They don’t hide behind a keyboard, but instead are constantly connecting with their teams by listening, having a curious mindset, and showing empathy.
For the mere mortals amongst us (myself included), we need gentle reminders to focus our intentions and behaviors. We can’t all be Jeff Bezos.
How To Become A Catalyst Leader
The first step to becoming a catalyst leader is to master the skills of any good leader. These best-in-class leadership skills can be learned through comprehensive leadership programs like my Leadership Boot Camp, and they include active listening, providing balanced feedback, building trust, collaboration and empowerment, and aligning actions with strategy.
But you’ll need to take it a step further to become a catalyst. How you affect others is truly the defining characteristic of a catalyst leader. More than anything else, catalyst leaders bring out the best in people. They do that by:
- Encouraging people to try new things – Look for the potential in others that they cannot see themselves; give them the confidence to spread their wings and get out of their comfort zone.
- Giving people input on things that affect them – People appreciate thoughtful, insightful feedback – even if it is critical. The ability to truly see a situation through someone else’s lens is a gift, and people will lean in to each other and hear it.
- Providing a safe space for learning – Catalyst leaders create an environment where people can safely learn through failure. Giving a safe space for taking appropriate risks is liberating and inspirational.
- Finding out what motivates people – This is about taking the time to get inside someone’s shoes and understand where they are coming from. A leader who can do that can inspire action in anyone and be a true change maker.
The best way to nurture and promote these behaviors in your leaders is to incorporate them into your leadership development program. The right behaviors need to be modeled at the top. The action you ignite will be your own career!