What is Resonant Leadership?

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Resonant Leadership is a leadership style that focuses on building responsive relationships between the leader and the followers to foster an environment of trust and respect. The goal of this approach is to employ a mixture of strategic decisions, emotional connections, and collaborative initiatives that work to create an atmosphere conducive to both team and individual success.

Exploring the Basics of Resonant Leadership

Exploring the basics of resonant leadership involves understanding how leaders can use emotional intelligence to connect with their team members, inspire them to work towards a shared vision and create a positive work environment.

It’s characterized by a strong focus on building relationships between the leader and those who follow and all about creating a culture of trust and mutual respect. It places a high value on empathy and active listening, understanding the need for two-way communication, as well as on delegation. It’s also a highly flexible, yet directed approach that supports creativity, collaboration, and innovation.

Resonant leadership encourages leaders to be open to feedback and to be willing to adjust their approach when necessary. It’s a style that emphasizes the importance of setting clear expectations and providing meaningful recognition for those who meet them and encourages leaders to be mindful of their own emotional state and to take the time to reflect on their own experiences and those of their followers.

This makes sense when we break it down.

‘Resonance’ refers to a phenomenon in which a vibrating object or system, such as a guitar string or a human voice, creates a sympathetic vibration in another object or system that is in close proximity. In other words, when two objects resonate, they vibrate at the same frequency, creating a harmonious sound.

Doesn’t that sound nice?

In the context of leadership, ‘resonance’ refers to the ability of a leader to create a positive emotional connection with their team members, based on the leader’s emotional intelligence and ability to understand and respond to the emotions of others.

When a leader is resonant, they create a positive emotional climate that inspires and motivates team members to work towards a shared vision.

Understanding the Benefits of Resonant Leadership

Resonant leadership has been found to be a powerful tool for organizational success. It breaks down the traditional barriers of hierarchy and allows the leader to tap into the collective wisdom of their entire organization. Team members are more motivated and engaged when they feel appreciated, respected and heard within an organization. When people feel respected, their work performance improves, enabling innovation and creativity.

Resonant leadership also encourages collaboration and trust between team members. By creating an environment of mutual respect, team members are more likely to share ideas and work together to solve problems. This type of leadership also encourages employees to take ownership of their work and be accountable for their actions. This leads to increased job satisfaction and a greater sense of purpose within the organization.

How to Foster a Resonant Leadership Style

In order to foster a resonant leadership style, the leader needs to prioritize building strong relationships with their followers. Trust and respect must be integral parts of the relationship for it to work successfully. In addition, creating a culture that encourages open communication, collaboration and feedback is an important aspect of resonant leadership.

It is also important for the leader to be aware of their own emotions and how they are affecting their interactions with their followers. Leaders should strive to be self-aware and be able to recognize and manage their own emotions in order to create a positive and productive environment. Additionally, leaders should be open to feedback and be willing to learn from their mistakes to foster a resonant leadership style.

Examining Resonant Leadership in Different Organizational Structures

Resonant leadership can be applied in various organizational structures, such as traditional command-and-control hierarchies, team-based models, flat organizations and more. In a traditional command-and-control hierarchy, the leader sets the overall direction and vision while making decisions based on their experience and expertise. On the other hand, in consensus-driving models such as flat organizations, resonant leaders foster an atmosphere of collaboration and give a louder voice to those closest to the issue.

In team-based models, resonant leaders are able to create an environment of trust and respect, allowing team members to work together to achieve a common goal. They also provide guidance and support to team members, helping them to develop their skills and reach their full potential. Resonant leaders also recognize the importance of diversity and inclusion, and strive to create an environment where everyone feels valued and respected.

4 Types of Resonant Leadership

In his book, Primal Leadership, Daniel Goleman outlines four types of resonant leadership: visionary, coaching, affiliative, and democratic.

  1. Visionary leaders inspire their team members by painting a compelling picture of the future and providing a sense of direction.
  2. Coaching leaders focus on developing their team members by providing feedback and guidance to help them improve their skills.
  3. Affiliative leaders prioritize building relationships and creating a positive work environment, often by emphasizing collaboration and empathy.
  4. Democratic leaders seek input and participation from their team members, valuing diverse perspectives and creating a sense of ownership and responsibility.

Applying Resonant Leadership Principles in the Workplace

Applying resonant leadership principles in the workplace can have a significant positive impact on organizational culture, employee morale, and business success. Here are some practical ways to apply resonant leadership principles in the workplace:

Develop Emotional IntelligenceLeaders can develop their emotional intelligence by practicing self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, and social skills. This can help them connect with team members, understand their emotions, and respond appropriately.
Communicate EffectivelyResonant leaders communicate effectively by actively listening to their team members, expressing their thoughts and feelings clearly, and providing feedback and guidance when necessary.
Create a Positive Work EnvironmentResonant leaders prioritize creating a positive work environment by promoting collaboration, recognizing team members’ achievements, and fostering a sense of community and belonging.
Lead by ExampleResonant leaders lead by example by modeling the behavior they expect from their team members, showing respect, kindness, and professionalism in all interactions.
Provide MentorshipResonant leaders can provide mentorship to team members by helping them develop their skills, providing feedback, and coaching them towards success.
Balance Task and Relationship OrientationResonant leaders balance task and relationship orientation by focusing on achieving goals while also building positive relationships with team members. They understand that achieving goals is important, but building strong relationships is crucial for long-term success.

How Resonant Leadership and Mentoring Overlap

Resonant leadership and mentoring overlap in many ways – both involve guidance from an experienced leader. Mentoring is often seen as more directive than resonant leadership since it involves more formal instruction and teaching. However, resonant leaders can act as mentors if they take a more active role in offering advice to their followers and give them feedback. Mentors can also embrace a resonant leadership style by being open to communication and by actively listening to their mentees.

They both involve creating a safe and supportive environment for learning and growth – sometimes referred to as cultivating psychological safety. Resonant leaders strive to create an atmosphere of trust and respect, while mentors provide a space for their mentees to explore their ideas and develop their skills. Both resonant leadership and mentoring also involve providing guidance and support to help individuals reach their goals. By combining these two approaches, leaders and mentors can create a powerful and effective learning environment.

Ultimately, both are focused on developing relationships, building trust, and helping individuals grow and achieve their potential.

Resonant leaders use emotional intelligence to connect with their team members and inspire them to work towards a shared vision. Mentors also use emotional intelligence to establish a positive relationship with their mentees and guide them towards achieving their goals. They may feed off one another, creating more empathetic and in-touch leaders within an organization.

Focused on creating a positive work environment, these types of leaders use empathy and positive reinforcement to create a positive culture, while mentors provide support and encouragement to help mentees develop their skills and succeed.

Encouraging these types of leaders to participate in your mentoring program can elevate not only the experience within your mentoring program – but for your organization as a whole.

For more on leadership and how mentoring can help you create better leaders, watch our fireside chat on Creating Inclusive Leaders here:

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Emily Ryan
Emily Ryan
Head of Marketing at Mentorloop. Observing tens of thousands of mentoring relationships, she is passionate about helping people get the most from their mentoring experience. When not writing, you'll find her brewing beer or globe-trotting.

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