Much emphasis is placed on action in today's leadership environment - goals, directives, analysis, decision-making, action plans, tactical maneuvers. A lot of "doing." But this is not the entire story of leadership!
Leaders who cling to this "doing" model may have a hard time anchoring themselves firmly enough to withstand the tempest of change and other external circumstances that pelt leaders on a daily basis: If one's leadership style is rooted solely in action, the ride - for the leader and the team - will likely be quite bumpy.
Great leaders emerge not through "doing," but through who they are as people - their "being." You have likely experienced this with someone you admire. They are centered, focused and unflappable. They draw people in, they create strong alliances, they motivate through their very presence. They seem to exude leadership qualities without even trying! You may have noticed that great leadership begins inside a person and flows outward to others. Leadership built on a solid core of "being" will stand firmly rooted, no matter what external forces exist. Action-oriented leaders manage well. But "being" leaders inspire others to greatness.
Will you merely manage? Or inspire?
One way that we enhance our being is to practice self knowledge. Before we can influence others, we must understand what motivates them. But first we must understand ourselves.
Great leaders have a keen awareness of:
> Their cores values and beliefs > The impact they have on others > How their communication style influences others > Their use of personal power, relational power and hierarchical power > How their presence draws others in > The power of their internal dialogue > The source of their unique personal strengths > What it takes to maintain life balance > Their ability to make choices Great leaders possess the ability to observe their own behavior, are aware of their own actions, and are well-connected to their own thoughts and feelings.
Self awareness takes practice. If you stop for just a minute and look quietly inward, asking yourself what you are aware of right here and now, you may not notice much at first. But you will notice something, a physical sensation, a distant sound, a murmur of feeling within. If you practice this often, you will eventually begin to notice a great deal more, and will become increasingly aware of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations and you may even start to notice that this heightened awareness creates choice.
In general, people tend to make good choices in life only when they are aware of what choices are available to them. Individuals are often unaware of their choices, often pushed and pulled by forces that make them think, feel and behave the way that they do. To the extent that people are not happy with who they are, or with their lives, or to the extent that they desire to more fully love their lives, they owe it to themselves to explore and become more aware. Only then may they become more fully aware of the bounty of choices that they have in life, and choose what is right for them in awareness.
So take stock in your own leadership style. Are you following the "doing" model, focusing only on a set of external behaviors and techniques? Ideally, you have tapped into your inner core - your essence - to fully understand who you are, what choices are available to you, and what value your "being" contributes to those around you. They key to effective leadership comes from the inside out.
First published by the CPCU Society.