Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Leader's Primary Task is to Change Themselves

I have yet to meet any really good leaders who have not done their share of personal work.  While there are  many keys to great leadership, there are a few that are indispensable.  Personal growth is one of them.  We MUST have a level of self awareness in order to be great leaders.

We have to know when we are lying to ourselves or rationalizing, and be practiced enough to catch it quickly.

We have to have let go of a certain amount of our ego so we can take blame for things we did not do, and give away all of the credit.

We have to cease making decisions out of fear (or at least catch ourselves pretty quickly).  Fear based decision making and great leadership simply cannot coexist.

We have to make friends with the unknown.  In order to allow others to make mistakes and learn through their failures we have to be OK with outcomes that are not under our control.

We have to posses a level of emotional intelligence.  We must be aware of our own emotions, and not only recognize them, but also be willing to admit to them.  This will also enable us to draw the line between empathy and sympathy.

We have to be comfortable enough with our emotions that we can show them to others.  We can be sad, angry, afraid, or uncomfortable, and not project those emotions onto others.

We have to approve of ourselves, and love ourselves enough that we don't have to constantly seek them from others.  This will enable us to navigate the right path for us, and do the right thing, even if it means disapproval from others.

We have to know that we only learn from those who disagree with us, and so continue to challenge ourselves.  That might mean reading; joining a professional group (or starting one); therapy or a personal coach; or any number of ways to keep learning and growing as a leader.

Much of my own personal growth came from 2 years of training at the Pennsylvania Gestalt Center; AA step work (some of the hardest and most productive work EVER!); and working through some of my many mistakes and set backs, to come out a little stronger, a little more at peace, a little more patient, a little more accepting, and taking myself a lot less seriously.

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