I have been reading a lot of leadership books lately as I prepare for an exciting course I will be offering this fall. The books I have been reading have not been on The Top Ten Things You Need to Do to be a Better Leader or How to Make Your Employees Do What You Want. They instead have been books on personal growth. The lessons I am learning are about personal mastery in our lives and how that carries into our leadership positions. It is proving to be an incredible learning experience for me.
Leadership Power Through Titles
When I was a manager, supervising a team of employees, my leadership came partly from my title or the role I was in. Supervisor, Manager, Director or Boss; all titles that give someone power in a position. But the real power, the real beauty of great leaders comes not from their title (see works by Robin Sharma) but through who they are as leaders.
Leadership Power From Within
Reread that last sentence again. It comes from who they are, not what they do. The essence of a great leader comes from within. It comes from their values and beliefs, their life experience and how they see those as well as their vision for the future. It comes through their willingness to be courageously authentic in all they do.
Authentic means real, as opposed to false or imitation. That means if you are angry, you are angry, if you don’t know what to do, you don’t know what to do and if you need help, you ask for it. It also means if you believe strongly in something; you say that and your actions align with what you believe.
Leaders need to look internally
Where upcoming leaders often struggle is they look externally for fixes and as such, tend to blame others or their situation. “If only I had better educated staff”, “If only my boss would let me handle the situation the way I want to handle it” or “If I didn’t have so much on my plate I could give this the attention it deserves”. While all of these facts may be true, the real truth is great leaders look internally at themselves and see what they are doing, how they are handling the situation, but more importantly, what their inner beliefs are and how those beliefs may be getting in the way.
Performance Reviews Can Help
One of the ways upcoming leaders can do this is to participate in regular reviews of their performance. 360’s performance reviews (See The Leadership Circle Profile) are great ways to start this process. These reviews allow leaders to hold a mirror up and see the reflection back of what they are emitting to the world.
· What do the people around you say about you as a leader?
· How does this align with who you think you are as a leader?
· Where are the gaps?
This starting point allows you to go deeper. It allows you to look at why you might not be getting the results you want. And rather than looking outward through your glasses that say “It’s their fault things aren’t working out” or “I just need to get better at delegating, time management or running meetings ”, you start to look at your beliefs, how they get in the way,
Find your Shadow Beliefs
Kevin Cashman, author of the Leadership From the Inside Out says
“personal mastery is acknowledging our strengths and talents while facing our underdeveloped, hidden or shadow sides of ourselves”.
Do you remember the adage, a strength overused becomes a weakness. Cashman takes it one step further. He says, a strength, combined with what he calls a shadow belief, can become a weakness.
The strength of the leadership competency of “focus” combined with the shadow belief of “I must know ever detail to feel comfortable” suddenly can become the weakness of rigidity and lack of trust in your employees.
Strength + Shadow Belief = Weakness
Focus + I must know every = Rigidity/lack of trust
detail to feel comfortable
Focus on Personal Growth and You Will Become a Great Leader
Great leaders take the time to get to know themselves. They value personal growth and increase awareness. By looking internally at how they lead, they are more consciously projecting what they intend to project and find when they hold the mirror up again, they are pleased to see the results of their hard work.
I lead a full life full of love, adventure and growth. Check out my latest thoughts here.
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