As a leader, you are a doer. You are thinking about the future, creating strategies, nurturing the people in your care and all the other things that come along with positions of leadership. Doing is your behaviours, your actions and your decisions. But what if I asked who you are being as a leader?
Who you are as a leader goes beyond your job description; it's about the impact you have on others, the culture you create, and the legacy you leave behind. Who you are being as a leader is who you are. It’s the qualities you have, your thought patterns and beliefs, your worldview.
The Inner Journey of Self-Mastery
I think that leadership is for everyone, whether or not you lead others. This is because leadership is fundamentally about leading yourself. I would go as far as to say that to be an effective leader, it's crucial to embark on an inner journey of self-mastery. This journey involves introspection, self-awareness, and a deep understanding of your values, beliefs, strengths, and weaknesses. It's about uncovering your true self and aligning it with your leadership role. Consider the self-mastery as the foundation from which you build your leadership strategy.
Being vs Doing
I often have people come for coaching who want to change the doing part. They want to create new actions and processes so that they feel more clear, organised, focused, whatever it is they feel is lacking. Whilst working at the action level helps, for many of us, it doesn’t change anything. Let’s explore some common scenarios where we think we are building a foundation but in fact, we are still working on the upper floors of doing!
Let’s get organised!
Imagine that you want some clarity in your career and you realise you want to be more organised. You embark on a journey to add more structure and consistency. You start implementing new systems, establishing new processes and labelling everything in sight! But, no matter how organised you are, it doesn’t feel like enough. Maybe you’re self-sabotaging your efforts, or maybe you feel like a fraud.
This is because the underlying belief (i.e. your thinking) is that being ‘disorganised’ is bad. Without working on this belief you will keep falling into thinking that you aren’t enough. As will inevitably happen, something will disrupt your process and you will believe that you can’t ever get control. The truth is that things change all the time and when we tap into who we are being as a leader we get present and can remind ourselves that this moment will pass.
Delegate, delegate, delegate
If you are finding yourself snowed under in your leadership role you might decide it’s time to step back and an obvious choice is to entrust more responsibility to others. I have written posts on delegation and it seems like a good idea, right?
But, even with large teams, I work with leaders who can’t delegate enough or even at all. The underlying belief here is that your self-worth is tied to what you do. You feel compelled to prove your value to yourself and others by doing as much as possible. A voice within asks, "If I'm not busily managing everything, who am I?" Consequently, you involve yourself in every conceivable task to affirm your indispensability and worthiness.
The doing issue revolves around delegation, while the being issue relates to an unconscious need to validate your self-worth.
Slow the f**k down
Maybe you’re like me. You are always racing around at breakneck speed, overwhelmed by ideas, tasks, and future steps. You struggle to unwind, and you're unsure if you even want to. Perhaps you remain in constant motion, but you sense that you're nearing a breaking point. You see that the answer is to meditate, journal, and practice yoga in an attempt to calm down. However, no matter how hard you try to relax, a persistent feeling nags at you, urging you to be more productive.
Deep down, your sense of identity is intertwined with productivity, a protective shield against your innermost vulnerabilities. This facade is all about action, struggle, and movement, driven by a compulsion to prove yourself in every situation. Underlying this, there's a fear of confronting your true feelings, and resentment simmers at the thought of self-reflection. This fear transforms into guilt when you're not constantly working, compelling you to forge ahead as if your life depended on it.
The doing challenge encompasses stress, fatigue, and burnout, while the being challenge involves an unconscious urge to surrender to the struggle.
Who am I being as a leader?
I have good news. When we consider the question: Who am I being as a leader? then we are focused on what’s important to us and what we stand for. We get present and stop worrying about what’s going to happen. We slow down and surrender to what is happening now.
Reflecting on who we are being might seem scarier and more challenging but it’s where the magic happens. And the amazing thing is that when we focus on who we are being, the doing takes care of itself.
5 things to reflect on how you are being as a leader
1. Authenticity in Leadership
How are you being authentic in your leadership? When you are authentic, you lead with integrity, transparency, and honesty. You know what you stand for and who you are. You create environments of trust and credibility because others sense your authenticity.
How can you embrace your true self and use your unique qualities to inspire and motivate others?
2. Defining Your Leadership Values
What are your values? They are guiding principles which shape your decisions and actions as a leader. Take the time to identify and prioritise your leadership values. Are you being guided by a commitment to ethics, innovation, empathy, or teamwork? By defining your values, you can ensure that your leadership style aligns with your core beliefs.
3. Embracing Vulnerability
What does vulnerability mean to you? Leaders are often seen as strong and unflappable, but vulnerability can be a powerful tool in leadership. When you demonstrate vulnerability, you show your humanity and this builds connection. Sharing your challenges, doubts, and mistakes creates an atmosphere of openness and trust. It allows others to relate to you on a deeper level and fosters a culture of learning and growth.
4. Cultivating Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to recognise, understand, and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. Leaders with high EQ are better equipped to navigate complex interpersonal dynamics, resolve conflicts, and build strong relationships. By developing your emotional intelligence, you can become more empathetic and attuned to the needs of your team.
5. Leading with Purpose
What is the driving force behind my leadership role? What impact do I want to make in my organisation and in the lives of those I lead? Leading with purpose not only motivates you but also inspires your team to rally behind a shared vision.