Today I am reflecting that leaders can lead using ourselves and that leading from whom we are is possible the most powerful leadership tool that we have and possibly the only one that we will ever need.
When I think about the self, I’m thinking about the self as the physical, spiritual and emotional being. Leaders can integrate those three experiences to lead our teams effectively.
Yes, it sounds a little strange, but walk with me and hear me out.
I refer to myself as the CEO of this entity called Maxine Attong. Whatever I’m doing, I am first leading this entity and then leading others.
When I think about the self, I think about two aspects of self. 1) personality and 2) self belief
My offer is not a psychological self. I will leave that for the social scientists.
‘m going to explain how these two aspects can impact upon our leadership. I’m also going to share some tips of how to engage this idea of self to effectively lead.
Personality is our way of thinking, how we are feeling and behaving. This includes our moods, our patterns of thoughts, our attitudes and behaviors.
What is your personality?
Does your personality change according to where you show up?
Most of us belong to different groups, social groups, and professional groups. If we trace our interactions in those different groups and how we navigate each we will realize that we probably show up differently in each group.
We show up in professional settings differently from how we show up with our very close friend groups or how we show up with our football team. The language that we use, the emotions that we show and the attitudes that we display are different.
A lot of my coaching clients share that they wear a mask when they get to work.
They put on their professional mask and their persona changes when they walk through an office door. They leave a part of themselves somewhere on the commute to work and pick it up on their return.
- At the workplace, the attitudes and beliefs that you display, how much of that is you?
- Under this veil of professionalism, what parts of you have you sacrificed?
- What part of your genuinely true, funny, creative, highly intelligent selves are you not showing up with?
- What are you leading with under this mask, this personality that has been tailored for a particular environment?
What essence of you is missing?
The invitation is for us to understand what mask we are wearing and to determine how it has impacted upon our leadership.
Consider that the strongest essence of who you are may just be missing in your leadership. The call is for us to establish
- What mask we are wearing?
- Is that mask serving us in the realm that we’re entering?
- What other elements of ourselves can we inject into that mask to make a difference in our leadership?
- How do you lead with a mask on?
.This is trickier than the mask because our self belief determines how we look at the world and how we make meaning of what is happening in front of us.
For example, most of us have learned how to behave, how to treat and think of other people from whomever we’ve been listening to. The voices of the people who loved us, the people who raised us, the people we have experienced all play in our heads and heart.
Have you ever questioned if these voices are still relevant?
Think about it. You learned a lot from your teachers, who were 10 to 30 years older than you. Now that you are in your 30s, in your 40s or your 50s are those voices still relevant?
The way that our parents saw the world, the things that they experienced, what they told you about people who look a certain way or who behave a certain way, is any of it still relevant?
The world has changed so much in the last 20 years.
If our self belief is hinged upon what we learned from those voices is our self belief relevant?
How do those self beliefs show up in our leadership in terms of how we behave and how in terms of our attitudes and most definitely in terms of the way we treat other people?
Oscar Wilde said, “Most people are other people.”
Who are you when you show up?
What is your personality when you show up and what is your self belief?
A BEAUTIFUL GARDEN
Consider this a story.
A woman tended her garden with beautiful flowers, every morning. One day, she became ill and was bedridden. Her son, who loved his mother dearly and knew how important her garden was to her, made a commitment to this garden until she recovered.
Each day he watered the flowers, and cleaned the leaves.
After three months his mother recovered.
He excitedly said, “Mom, I took care of all of your plants.”
When she saw her garden she began to cry.
Her garden was in ruins and she and she yelled at her son.
He in turn was confused. He said, “Mom, I took care of your garden. I cared for each and every flower and each and every leaf.”
His mother then said to him, “The life of a plant is in its roots. They are invisible. You forgot to water the roots and the result is visible in the complete devastation of my garden.”
It is easy to tend to the flowers that we bloom and or leaves. As leaders we have to pay attention to our roots. We need to examine our self-belief and our personality to ensure healthy roots,
I will share five tips on how to lead with ourselves from the root of whom we really are.
- Understand and know ourselves. How can we understand other people if we don’t understand ourselves? We need to understand our virtues, our vices, our attitudes, our perceptions, what makes us tick, what makes us mad or what makes us sad. Most of us know our strengths and weaknesses and this is just the tip of the iceberg, because that is about skills and competence. We need to know whom we are deep inside. We need to be aware of what motivates us, what drives us, our limitations, what we believe about ourselves. We need to go deeper and understand our inner critic, that voice that says you’re not good enough and where this voice came from. It is critical for us to us to know what where our self belief emanates from.
- Honor your story. You have a particular story that makes you unique. Tell your story in a positive way to yourself. You are not a victim because you have survived and you have thrived. Tell your story in a powerful way that makes you claim that narrative in a way that removes all shame and eliminates any suggestion that you are not good enough in this story. It doesn’t matter what was done to you, and by whom. What matters is that this is your story and you honor your story by seeing it in a really, really positive way. Yeas you can do this and tell the truth.
- Understand your emotions. Do you know why you’re jealous of some people? Do you know what makes you sad or do you even know what it is to feel sad when you’re feeling sad? When we understand the emotional range of whom we are we unravel a huge piece of whom we are.
- Empathize with yourself – I’m still learning to have great empathy for myself. It’s very easy to project and have empathy for others and to walk in their shoes and to give them the benefit of the doubt and treat them as if they are coming to you with best of intentions. What would it be like to do this for yourself? What would it be to look at yourself as the little child who resides inside of all of us. What would it be like to deal with ourselves with great empathy and believe that we are operating every day from our best self? How about giving yourself the benefit of the doubt?
- Pay attention to your emotional and physical sensations When I understood myself, my emotional range and I began to have great empathy for myself, I began to zero in on the emotions of other people . Then I realized that I am a mirror for you, just as you are a mirror for me. The physical and emotional sensations that I have when coaching an individual or facilitating a group allow me to be better and more effective coach and facilitator.
Leading with the use of myself was one of the most powerful lessons that I’ve learned over my leadership journey
This is my lived experience and so I ask leaders to understand and accept themselves.
What are you walking away with after reading? Which of these tips do you want to try? What has been you experience.
Drop me a comment I would love to learn your story.
- Leaders, let us understand our flaws, our brilliance, that we are perfectly imperfect, that we make mistakes, and that we have sparks of brilliance.
My intention is to fuel your leadership spark so that together we can co-create in the systems that we live work and play within.
Our 4th annual Gestalt Leadership Caribbean Conference – Leading with Equity is on April 29 2021. This year we are discussing Leading With Equity. This is a virtual event.
Register at maxineattong.com5