We all have a story about who we are as a leader. This story is shaped from when we are young until the present moment. Aspects of the story have been accentuated and practiced as those are the parts that have been historically valued. Other parts have been undervalued and therefore not highlighted and practiced. In those areas our awareness’s and skills are a bit rusty.
In the course of our lifetime according to psychological research, as well as historical stories the whole world over, most of us hit developmental phases where the behavior of the past is no longer useful or accepted and we change organically or are forced to change. This happens seamlessly when we are young, and not so seamlessly when we are older.
In our youth, we change from a toddler to a young child, with new expectations and capabilities. As we age, each phase of development increases our capabilities and expectations until adulthood. At this point in our life we focus on what we were good at, told we were good at or on what we majored in in college. On top of this focusing we also increase the pressure in our life to succeed as we have to support ourselves and keep up with the Jones’. This drive to succeed and move up the invisible ladder keeps us committed to our job and learning. This can sometimes be at the expense of other parts of us that are not thriving.
During all these phases of our life we were weaving a leadership story about our strengths and weaknesses; we were gathering data from our families, communities, schools, work, and the culture all around us. In this story is a picture of us we identify with and try to uphold every day.
For me as a child, I wanted to save the world, like a super hero I saw on TV and was accustomed to saving the world quickly, in 30 minute segments, otherwise know as a hit-and-run. As I age, I am still idealistic and want to save the world, but I realize that 30 minutes (minus commercial breaks) is not enough time and even if a solution is perfect, without context and practice it fails to be sustainable.
My leadership, though effective in some areas, was missing the mark in others. I could sense this and read books to learn new skills but could not shift my underlying patterns of behavior. I was so identified by who I was that I could not see a new path.
It took working with other people, mainly my amazing partner, to help me shift my way of being. I needed others to ask me to stick around and finish the conversation instead of offering a suggestion or making a comment and then running away. It was incredibly uncomfortable to stay and finish the conversation, but helped me break through into a leadership story that lives up to my dream as a child.
On April 25th at the Access Leadership Lab, we will be examining your Leadership Story. I hope you can join us. Up until then here are some things to ponder and be curious about:
What is your leadership story? This may be hard to discover or uncover. Yet we all have a story to tell about our future and our past.
How does this story limit your possibilities as a leader?
Are you living in the default story that you acquired through your experiences or the leadership story you want to tell?
Who was the leader of your family? Community? Society? What did they teach you about leadership?
How did your birth position in your family impact your leadership?
What was your early leader life like? What role did you take on with friends, at school and early in your career/job?
What could you ‘never’ do as a leader? What would scare the pants off you to try?
What would you love to be able to do as a leader but don’t know how?
It is highly likely that you already have the capabilities required to live into the leadership story you envision for yourself. I had the skills but did not know how to use them in a way that impacted my abilities. Sometimes we just can’t see the path and need some help; come and invite perspective. I am well practiced at sticking around until something is complete and would love to help you live up to and into your dreams!