The Leadership Series Part 2.5: Why Developing the Self is Always the First Step in Leadership

The Leadership Sociology of How we Speak and Act

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Alright, leadership sociology. What a fun phrase. What does it mean though? Good question. Let’s reset the last installment, and then we will get into that question.

In the last installment in the Leaders Series, The Leadership Series Part 2: Why Developing the Self is Always the First Step in Leadership, we began a discussion of four concepts important to leadership, which are thinking, feeling, speaking, and action. Then, in the last installment we elaborated on two of them. Namely, thinking and feeling.

Now, in this article, we will discuss the latter two, speaking and acting. Ready? Good. Here we go.

Leadership Sociology

Sociology is basically the study of group behavior. And, what do you have in groups? Yep, people. So, the study of people within context is super important. And, in fact, that’s one part of what we are doing in this series; and, we are doing so from a leadership lens.

When we reflect upon how we think and feel, we will ultimately get to a place where we are also considering how we speak, and then take action. All of these concepts are important to being, and becoming, an effective leader. Hm. When I write about effective leadership, what do you think of?

Well, in this context, I mean, a leader that understands themselves, first. Understanding yourself, who you are as a human being, is always the first step in becoming an effective leader. Why?

Because everything we do starts with us. Really. If we don’t understand why we think as we do, why we feel as we do, or speak and act as we do, we can never understand how the people we lead think, feel, speak, and act. Not possible.

However, when we are self-aware, we understand ourselves, and then? We understand the people we surround ourselves with, including our teams. Alright. Now, let’s discuss speaking and acting.

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Speaking

When I use the phrase, speaking, I mean it in the literal sense of the word. How we use our words when we speak is important, as words and language, are very powerful. Speaking in this sense may be in actual verbal form, or in written form. Both are important.

In the article, 4 Reasons Why Language is Power, I discuss in some detail why language is powerful. For the purposes of this discussion, it is enough to know that our integrity is tied to how we speak. And, there are a few things we can use to measure our speech.

Here are a few.

  • Why are you saying it?
  • What are you saying?
  • How are you saying it?
  • When will you say it?
  • Whom will you say it to?
  • Where will you say it?

This may seem basic, and yet, to become more aware of how our speech impacts others, we must inquire into the why, what, when, how, whom, and where of our language.

There are several ways we can practice measuring our speech. Here are a few techniques I use.

  1. Write rough drafts – it is important to set out on paper, for me at least, the what and why first about my communications. It gives me a chance to print out the communication, and look at it from a different vantage point. I will also edit from paper.
  2. Email rough drafts – I always write my emails in advance, and will schedule them for a time in the near future. Sometimes that’s the next day, sometimes the next week. Depends. This tactic gives me time to reflect upon the communication some more. I have often when back and reworked an email that has already been scheduled.
  3. Whiteboard work – when I am unsure about the when, whom, and where, I often do whiteboard work about the communication. Well, actually, I often do whiteboard work about most of my communications. It is helpful to see my ideas up on a board, reflect on them, rework them, and then, send. Important and helpful.
  4. Get feedback – another strategy I use is asking coworkers for advice and feedback on my communications. As I’ve mentioned before, I am leading a statewide conversation about noncredit education, and when I have to communicate something clearly to this large group, I’ll get several people to weigh in and provide me feedback. They always see something I didn’t. Super helpful.

Another viable and valid strategy is to hold off on writing or speaking your communication until you are clear. I have actually cancelled team meetings before when the communication I needed to make to the team was just not clear enough for me.

It is much more important to have a high-quality communication that is clear, than a communication that may cause confusion.

Creating and delivering clear communication takes practice. And, that’s okay. We all need time to practice, and believe me, practicing your communication is a worthwhile endeavor. You will find that you will need to communicate less often, when you take more time to communicate clearly.

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Acting

In leadership, the actions we take, combined with the language we use, really do define our leadership. When I worked in the private sector, my supervisor once said something like “you do a very good job displaying sweat equity.”

I was very young at the time, so I had to ask what it was that he meant.

Sweat equity simply means that you are willing, and do when needed, take any action that you ask a team member to take. Simple.

One of the first things I did in my current role was to learn everyone else’s role. Why? Because it gave me tremendous information about their work, who they were as a human being, and it also provided a context for me to learn about the businesses. Very important.

Here is how I currently organize my actions.

  1. Calendar – people often say something like, “if it’s not on my calendar, then it doesn’t exist,” and, for me, this is a truth. I work on my calendar three months in advance, and have it also scheduled that far in advance. Meaning, that I have sight into, and am actively, creating future contexts for myself and the team. Helpful.
  2. Basecamp – an average project management system, yet the one we have today; and, it works very well to hold information for the team. We have lots of projects running concurrently, so having a single place to hold our next actions is important.
  3. Franklin Planner – a tool I started using last year, and it helps fill the gaps between larger pieces of work and my calendar. I will typically use the planner for tasks related to the larger projects.

And, of course, I use post-its like many people, and whiteboards to help generate and create the thinking related to all of the aforementioned.

The language we use, and the actions we take say, well, really everything about our leadership.

For instance, if we speak about creating a future reality that is inspirational and gets people excited, yet there is no action, there is an incongruence that will leave people confused about the team’s directions.

Conversely, if we act and begin to create a future reality that is inspirational and has the potential to get people excited, yet there is no speaking about this newly created reality, again, there will be confusion about the team’s direction.

You may be asking, how do you know these things?

Pixabay

Well, like most things I write about, I’ve lived through them; and, our team has grown through them, and is stronger today for doing so.

Now, once you are in action, and your team is moving, it is important to keep the momentum going. Steve Jobs said something about this concept; and, alas, I cannot find it anywhere. It might have been in the book I read recently, Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson.

Anway, the gist of it? If you are not continuing to innovate, which to me speaks of being in action and creating traction for yourself and your team, your business is already dead.

We must continue to move ourselves and our teams forward. And, that takes clear communication and decisive action.

Alright, we’ve now completed the first 2.5 installments in the Leadership Series. And, just the other day, as I was preparing for this installment, it occured to me that there are two other concepts important to developing yourself as a human being and as a leader. And, they are?

Hearing and Seeing.

Both are important aspects to leadership, and all of life in general, and we will cover them in the next leadership installment.

For today?

Remember, becoming a leader means first leading from within. Understanding the why, what, how, when, whom, and where of how we think, feel, speak, and act. Once we understand our thinking, feelings, speech, and actions, we can more appropriately and effectively lead ourselves, and our teams into action and eventual traction.

#acting, #creatingaction, #innovation, #languageispower, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #organization, #sociologyofleadership, #speaking, #speakingandacting, #takingaction, #verbalcommunication, #writtencommunication

A Developmental Moment #3: Creating Vulnerability, Movement, and Traction

3 Reasons Why Vulnerability is A Key Ingredient to Creating Movement and Traction for Ourselves and the World

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I’ve written about vulnerability often this past year. Why? Well, I do believe that vulnerability is one of the most important gateways to our own development. Pretty simple really.

Vulnerability conceptually is simple, as most things conceptually are. However, practicing vulnerability, well, that’s a whole different experience.

We can talk about concepts often and at length, however, when we put those concepts, like vulnerability, into practice in our lives, they can often feel very uncomfortable. And, vulnerability is no exception.

Yet, it is so important for each of us to find new ways, which are safe, to put vulnerability into practice in our lives. Safe? Meaning, where we are with people we trust and can rely upon. Important, as when we are vulnerable, we are bearing a side of ourselves that is, for lack of a better way to explain it, raw.

Raw, meaning, that these sides of ourselves have not been exposed to, what can sometimes be harsh conditions in the world, so we must take care when we practice our vulnerability.

Now, when we find those spaces and places where we can be the vulnerable-selves we know ourselves to be, so that we can grow and learn, there are many things we will get back from our environments, and ourselves, which makes practicing vulnerability quite the exquisite experience. What, prey are those things?

Right. Well, in this article we will explore three of them. Three reasons, as I think about it, why it is important for us to practice vulnerability regularly, so that we may grow into the next iteration of ourselves.

Ready? Good. Here we go.

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1. Learn

Wow, how important is learning? Pretty important, right? Yep, I agree. Well, to learn more about the world, and the people in it, we must first, learn about ourselves. And, being actively vulnerable is key. Why?

Because we get to learn about aspects of ourselves that were previously unavailable. For instance, if you are nervous about public speaking, as I once was, and you always resist public speaking, well, you will never learn about the experience of public speaking. And?

That’s perfectly okay. However, if you are interested in tapping into a reservoir of untapped potential, then being vulnerable in the area of public speaking will be a gateway to your learning more about yourself as a public speaker.

The only way to become a public speaker is to do public speaking. You can read every book that was ever written on the topic, and still never become a public speaker. Whereas book knowledge is helpful, it is in the vulnerable practice of public speaking, for example, where we create the possibility of becoming a public speaker.

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2. Know

Now, as we practice vulnerability, and venture into environments that we previously resisted, we learn more about the experience of, staying with the previous example, being a public speaker. And?

Then, we get the experience of knowing what it is like to be a public speaker. Again, the only way to know what it’s like to be a public speaker is to become one. Meaning, to take one step, or one action, toward the realization of your goal to become a public speaker.

And, guess what? You get to control how big those steps are. When we actively participate in being vulnerable, we set the pace. It’s iterative. It takes time.

There was a time when I was terrified of public speaking. And, I mean terrified. Then when I was about 28, I wanted to become a leader in the company I was working for at the time. Well, there is lots of public speaking in leadership. Lots of it. And? I took one small step at a time. One step, led to the next, and so on.

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3. Grow

And, the steps I just wrote about? That is growth. That’s what it looks like. You set a goal outside of your comfort zone, knowing you will have to be vulnerable to get there, and you take a step each day, or every other day, or once a week, or month.

Again, you control the pace.

Growth is an experience. It happens in the world by taking actions that we’ve not taken before. And, to take actions we’ve not taken before, especially when we are fearful or anxious, requires courage, yes, and it requires vulnerability.

Courage and vulnerability go hand-in-hand. In fact, there is a super cool quote I’ve drawn upon a few times from Brené Brown that speaks to this truth. Here it is.

“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.” -Brené Brown

Book Riot

Powerful. And, it’s been my experience that vulnerability and courage are linked. In fact, I believe they are one and the same. You cannot be courageous without being vulnerable, and you cannot be vulnerable without being courageous. They are one.

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Movement and Traction

Now, as you learn more about yourself, and begin to tap into your vulnerable areas, you also begin to know more and grow more. These three, learning, knowing, and growing are also linked. And, the concept that lies behind them? Yep. It is an experience.

When we are in action, and experiencing life, living our life in vulnerable ways, we are creating movement. Movement for ourselves, yes, and for those around us. Meaning, when we move our own development forward, we move the development forward of the people around us.

It’s the way it works.

And, when we continue this pattern? Well, traction will inevitably follow. Meaning, that as we continue to grow, and those around us grow, we create contexts never seen before. Seriously. It’s not possible that they’ve been seen, because you are doing things you’ve never done before. Beautiful.

It’s inside of this movement and traction, and these new contexts, where the possibility to change the world lives. And, I mean this literally. The world is always moved forward from contexts that contain both courage and vulnerability.

And, remember you do have the power to change the world. We all do. What does it take?

Learning more, knowing more, and growing more in contexts that were previously unavailable to us. And, creating these contexts takes courage, yes, and vulnerability. So?

Be courageous, embrace your vulnerability, and change the world for the better. One action at a time.

#courage, #grow, #growth, #know, #leadershipdevelopment, #learn, #life, #movement, #personaldewvelopment, #professionaldevelopment, #traction, #vulnerability, #vulnerabilityandcourage

Creating Developmental Opportunities for Ourselves and Our Teams

6 Questions All Leaders Should Be Asking Themselves Right Now

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As I continue to write the, well, second-and-a-half, installment of the Leadership Series: Why Developing The Self is Always The First Step in Leadership, another idea occurred to me. What occurred to me? Good question.

In fact, the idea lives inside of the first few installments of the Leadership Series, yet overviewing it in this article makes sense to me today, so here it is.

As we develop, there are six questions to ask ourselves, which can lead inward toward more awareness about who we are as a human being. And?

Well, as I’ve written about in other articles, the more we understand our own humanity, the more we can understand all humanity. Super helpful from a leadership perspective, and, well, a whole life perspective.

Without further ado, here are those six questions

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1. What Do I Think?

Understanding yourself begins with getting a handle on how you think. What are your thoughts about the current reality, the state of your team, and the state of your life; a better question, maybe.

In order to lead teams effectively, we must first inquire into ourselves. When thoughts arise, it’s about letting go of the judgment we have about these thoughts, so we can understand them. When we can understand our thoughts, we are more effectively present to ourselves, and all of those around us.

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2. How Do I Feel?

Emotions come and go. They are here, and then they are gone. However, human beings have a tendency to hold onto emotions, like thoughts, and carry them around throughout the day. This need not be the case.

We can learn to effectively have emotions, feel them, understand them, talk about them even, and then let them go, which is a large part of my own internal work today. And?

Just like our thinking, when we understand our emotions, we are better equipped to understand our own emotional states, and what led us to those states, and ultimately we are better able to understand the emotional states of the people around us. Important.

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3. How Do I Speak?

Several months ago I wrote the article, 4 Reasons Why Language is Power. And, it is true that language is very powerful. Therefore it is important to understand how we are speaking and what we are saying. This may sound simple, and, for some of you, this may be the case.

However, human beings have a tendency to use language as a currency without considering the replenishment of that currency, as if it is in a never-ending supply. And, whereas we can continue to create language as we like, we should question the necessity of the language and the communication that follows.

As I’ve written about many times, communication is key, as is the importance of making sure we are clear about our communication. It is far more important to communicate clearly than it is to communicate often.

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4. What Do I Hear?

As we get clearer on how we think, feel, and speak, we will begin to hear things that we may not have been previously present to.

For instance, someone on your team, or close to you, may say they feel great and that all is well. Yet, you may hear things in their tone of voice that tells a different story. It first takes being clear on yourself, and then you can begin to pick up on inconsistencies in behavior, speech, and emotion. And, guess what?

It may be your own inconsistency that you pick up on first. Actually, this is very likely. And? It’s not a demerit when this happens. It’s okay.

It does mean that investigating, or inquiring, into the inconsistency between our behavior, speech, and emotion is needed. Understanding why there is ant inconsistency, to begin with. Important.

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5. What Do I See?

One of my favorites. As I continue my own development, which includes my own personal inquiry, a life coach, and a super dynamic and inquisitive team, I see so much more. More about my own humanity, and that of the teams. It works that way.

And, when you can see more facets of the human being you are, you are in a position to effect more change. More change for yourself, for your team, and for your organization, institution, or business.

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6. How Do I Act?

Being in action is so important. And, how we act tells us, and everyone around us, a lot about who we are as a human being. How we act will, in fact, tell people how we see, hear, speak, feel, and think. For, ultimately, it’s the actions we take that say the most about who we are as human beings.

For instance, we can create language about creating and effecting change, however, without action, the language is just language. Action is where concepts in language become reality. Simple.

And, when we are clear on our own actions, we are able to discern differences in how people talk about their work, and actually do their work. An important distinction and discovery.

Alright, that was a brief overview of 6 questions all leaders should be asking themselves right now. And, in fact, these are questions that anyone interested in personal or professional development can ask themselves.

It’s inside the questions we first ask ourselves, and the work we do on ourselves, where we develop as a person and a leader.

And, as we develop, we create the possibility of development for everyone around us.

#development, #howdoyouact, #howdoyoufeel, #howdoyouhear, #howdoyousee, #howdoyouspeak, #howdoyouthink, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #personaldevelopment, #professionaldevelopment, #self-development, #self-awareness, #sixquestionsallleadersshouldask, #teamdevelopment

A Blogger’s Diary 12/13/20: On Writing, Reading, Videoing, and Vulnerability

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Alright, another busy week, and, yep, also not busy. I’ve not started an entry that way before, have I? Nope. Why?

Well, it occurred to me this past week that in even the busiest times, when we feel like life is moving faster than we can follow along, there is always time. Now, granted, we have to create it, yet it does exist. In these pandemic days, I just wanted to make sure this is known. More time for yourself, for myself, is creatable.

Writing

Okay, now, into the writing that occurred this past week. Here we go.

  1. Tears
  2. Flight
  3. Ego
  4. A Developmental Moment #2: The 3 C’s of Authentic Productivity
  5. Silence
  6. The Reflection Series Part 6: Why is Creating Safety Important?
  7. Nature
  8. Breaking

And this week? Yep.

I’m currently working on a couple of new posts, which are.

  • The Social Construction Series Part 9: The Social Construction of Power
  • The Leadership Series Part 2.5: Why Developing the Self is Always the First Step in Leadership

I thought getting one of these published this week might happen, alas, that will not be the case. However, I do feel pretty confident about getting them both completed next week. We shall see. And, as I always say, or, rather, write, that is the fun part of the process. Not really knowing, and being at peace with that.

Now, let’s discuss the remote book club a little.

Photo by Jerry Wang on Unsplash

Reading

I’ve had so much fun with the remote book club. Last week, as we discussed in my last diary post, we finished Anxious People, and are now onto my choice, Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami. I’m a big Murakami fan, so I am super excited about this next book.

In my diary entry last week, I also wrote about connection and communication, and I’d like to report that having the additional connection and communication with the local folks in the remote book club has been amazing. Fun.

August, 2020

Videoing

Well, I’ve not written about creating videos in some time. Why? Well, I’ve been putting more time into my writing, and so the videos have been deprioritized. However, I have a whole new vision for video engagement, especially for LinkedIn, and so will be creating some new videos in the next quarter.

If you’ve not seen any of my videos, and are interested, due check out my Youtube channel. I’ve only had the channel for a short time, and find that creating videos is a beneficial way to connect with people from an audio/visual learning perspective.

You can also check out the videos on my site right here. Wow, I’ve not added a new video to the website since June. Phew. It’s been a little longer than I realized. Well, that just means there’s that much more to create!

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Vulnerability

I’ve written many articles on vulnerability. All of them intended to create the importance of actively being aware of how vulnerability can be transformational to both our personal and professional development. Seriously transformational.

I am resetting them here, as I do also believe that in the future we will need as much innovation as possible. And? Well, one of the gateways to unleashing creative potential is learning to be vulnerable. Alright, here are those articles.

  1. Vulnerability in Action: Three New Ways to Think About Vulnerability
  2. Writing and Life Series #1: On Writing and Vulnerability
  3. Living a Transformational Life: Authenticity and Vulnerability
  4. The Transformation Video Series – The 4 C’s of Vulnerability: Why Vulnerability is Transformational
  5. Vulnerability and Resilience
  6. 10 Reasons Why Embracing Vulnerability as a Strength is Important to Your Development
  7. The 4 C’s of Vulnerability: Why Vulnerability is Transformational

Wow. That’s fun.

Alright, that’s this week’s entry.

Please stay healthy and well, and have a wonderful week.

#blog, #blogger, #bloggers-diary, #blogging, #diary, #haruki-murakami, #innovation, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #reading, #transformation, #videos, #vulnerability, #writing

The Reflection Series Part 6: Why is Creating Safety Important?

A 3-minute Reflection on 4 Things Every Leader Can Do to Create Safety on Teams

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Well, we are 9-months into a pandemic, actually much more than 9-months, yet, here locally, 9-months ago was when the restrictions started. And?

I’ve been thinking about and reflecting upon just how important creating safety on teams is all the time; and, now? Even more important.

Developing safety within a team creates a context where possibilities abound. Meaning, when people feel safe, there is trust, and where there is trust, well, anything is possible. Seriously. Anything. And, now?

Living inside the pandemic for the past 9-months has been unsettling in many ways. Though I’ve written about, and we’ve discussed many times before, how much more there is to know and learn, than is known.

It is equally true that when the foundation of someone’s belief system is shaken, it can be really hard, and can make people begin to question what they thought they knew about how the world works.

Meaning that for some people, they already know there is much more to know than they know, and now what they thought they knew has been up-ended. Hard.

Right, so what can we do? How can we make sure to continue to create safety on teams so people feel like they have solid ground to stand on? Good questions. Let’s take a look at 4 ways we can do just that.

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Reality

Have you ever heard about managing the real and ideal? Yes, no? Either way, it simply means that when in a leadership role it is important to always strive for an ideal, think vision, while being very clear on the current reality.

Basically you are managing the tension between what is and what you are creating. Super important. Why?

Because even though the current reality might be hard to hear, people need confirmation that what they are seeing, thinking, and feeling is accurate. The very last thing they need is false hope. Nope. They need reality.

When you stand in the current reality, there is workability. Why? Because when you are clear and the team is clear, you can continue to create the ideal free from the distraction, what if.

You will get more focus, concentration, and organization when you are clear on the current reality while continuing to create the ideal future state. More focus, concentration, and organization from yourself and the team.

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Listen

We all know how important it is to listen. Very important. There might not be a more important leadership skill. Seriously. This is especially true when times are stressful.

People need someone they can come to, someone they can depend upon. Someone that is going to be present, listen, and give honest feedback. They need that, their team members need that, and, as the leader, you need that. From? From each of them. Yep.

There is immense power in being present and being an active listener.

Active listening simply means being mindful in your conversations. Be present, pay attention, empathize, and use your conversational skills to really understand, take in, and respond in kind to the person you are talking to. Important.

You will get much more back when you practice and coach people to practice active listening. More for yourself, for your teammates, and the entire team. When people really listen, they know what’s going on with their teammates, which makes for a much more productive work environment.

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Collaborate

When the team understands the current reality and the ideal state you are creating, is practicing active listening, the likelihood for collaboration increases. Why?

Because when people feel comfortable, are able to focus, and know how their teammates feel and what they think, they are immediately more approachable. And, when we are more approachable, collaboration is just easier.

And, what do you get when your team is able to collaborate more effectively? Yep. Innovation.

When your team works together, there is a synergy that occurs, and inside of that synergy, you get ideas that take the team further. You don’t get these types of synergistic innovations from silos. Just doesn’t happen.

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Action

Of course, you cannot create an ideal reality from a very clearly defined current reality without taking action. Nope. Not possible.

Actually, the coolest thing about creating an ideal, and generating all of the innovative ideas, is seeing them executed upon. Amazing. It is one of the things I love the most about working on teams.

Yep, it is so much fun to create, and, yes, I am very creative. Yet, it is equally beautiful and fun to watch the transformation of what can be months of innovative work into a new system, process, program, training, or class. Really.

Wow, that was fun.

Alright, remember, creating safety on teams is a powerful leadership skill. Truly.

As we discussed, creating safety ensures that people can feel comfortable in the current reality, even a very stressful one, while continuing to strive for the ideal reality.

Practicing and modeling active listening also fosters safety by creating a context of respect and mindfulness, while collaboration and taking action ensures that the bridge between innovation and execution is clearly articulated and navigated.

And, when the bridge between innovation and execution is clear and ideas are being executed upon, the team will feel a sense of accomplishment, which increases the team’s morale and feelings of security and safety.

Creating safety on teams may be one of the most important things a leader can do, especially during times that are more stressful and unknown. The ability for everyone to feel safe is that important.

#activelistening, #collaboration, #covid-19, #creatingsafety, #currentreality, #humandwevelopment, #idealreality, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #listen, #pandemic, #safeteams, #selfdevelopment, #takingaction, #teamdevelopment, #vision

A Developmental Moment #1: Inspiration

How Inspiration Relates to Our Personal and Professional Development

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In the article, The Leadership Series Part 1: What is Leadership, and Why is it so Important?, we discussed several leadership characteristics. And, it is these characteristics, which, by the way, are applicable to every aspect of our lives, that we will cover, one at a time, in this new series. Where to start? Let’s see.

Well, let’s start with this past week’s reflections, shall we? Good. Here we go.

Alright, so this past week, I’ve been reflecting a lot upon inspiration. What is inspiration, where does it come from, how can we get more of it, and what do we do if we run out of it. Very important questions. And?

Well, this week I’ve also been reflecting upon the creation of a new series. A series that can encompass a multitude of topics, and, yep, this is it, and inspiration will be the first topic.

Some of these developmental discussions will be longer, and some will be shorter. It will depend.

Alright, for this entry, let’s tackle the first question on inspiration. Ready? Good. Let’s go.

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Where Does Inspiration Come From?

I really do love this topic, as it seems so simple, right? Inspiration, well, it’s all around us. Some people say they find nature inspirational, or other people in their lives, such as their friends and family, or coworkers. And, that is beautiful. Truely. Yet, there is something missing here. Do you know what it is? Hm.

It is the viewpoint. Meaning?

That inspiration does not live outside of you. Nope. It lives inside of you. We look outward and place inspiration onto other things and people, yet that inspiration comes from within. Always has come from within, and always will come from within.

Why does this matter to your development? Good question. Here is one, of many, reasons why.

  1. When we know inspiration comes from within, we stop looking outside of ourselves for our own inspiration. Being aware of the source of our inspiration is important to our development, because when we fully realize that our inspiration comes from within, we are not bound to the changing tides of people and things. Simple. And?
Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

Well, we know that change is inevitable. It is part of life. Yep. And, when we get clear on the fact that inspiration does not live in the changing world, that, in fact, it can be developed, and maintained, regardless of external circumstances, we become more powerful. Really.

Does that mean that we don’t ever feel down, or stressed, or sad? No, it does not. We are meant to feel all of our emotions; to feel them, know them, and learn how to talk about them.

And, yet, we can still find our inspiration even during the most stressful times. Why? Because even though we may consider a situation stressful, we know that our inspiration is always there. Waiting for us.

Alright, so what can we do to connect, or reconnect, to our own inspiration? I think there is one thing we can all do that will assist in making our connection, or reconnection, to our inspiration stronger. What’s that?

  1. Make time for yourself. A must.

When we create time for ourselves, to be with ourselves, just for ourselves, we get to know ourselves better. And, the more we know ourselves, the more clear on our own inspiration we become. Really.

Next time, then, when things are really hectic, and you are feeling overwhelmed, stop. Stop doing what you are doing, and go for a walk, sit down under a tree and look around, or look up at the beautiful stars in the sky. Stop and just be.

For it is in this space, where your inspiration will find you.

#clarity, #compassion, #connection, #contemplation, #emotionalintelligence, #emotions, #inspiration, #leadershipdevelopment, #meditation, #mindfulness, #overwhelm, #personal-development, #professionaldevelopment, #reflection, #selfdevelopment, #selfimprovement

The Leadership Series Part 2: Why Developing the Self is Always the First Step in Leadership

The Leadership Psychology of How We Think and Feel

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This past week a colleague of mine and I were talking about leadership. Well, to be more accurate, we are always talking about leadership. Fun.

Anway, this colleague was talking about the upcoming leadership group training they would be facilitating, and they were talking about how important it is for leaders to understand how they think, feel, and act.

After reflecting upon the concept of thinking, feeling, and acting, which I totally agree with, another concept occured to me. Speaking. Also important.

Thus, the idea for this first-half of the two-part article on Developing the Self was created. Before we get into our discussion, however, let’s reset the first installment in the Leadership Series.

In the first installment of the Leadership Series, The Leadership Series Part 1: What is Leadership, and Why is it so Important?, we unpacked leadership as a concept and practice.

We also discussed 2 things that are very important to be clear about early on in any leadership development journey, which are

  1. Understanding yourself.
  2. Understanding your leadership style.

In this second installment, we will discuss understanding yourself as the very first step in a leadership development journey. Why? Good question.

Let’s take a look, shall we.

There are two ways we will approach this discussion.

  1. Psychologically
  2. Sociologically

Ready? Good, let’s go.

Leadership Psychology

Right, so, what in the world is leadership psychology? Well, in this context, we are going to address two main concepts. Thinking and feeling. Both are very important to understand for anyone in leadership.

If you don’t know why you think and feel as you do, you’ll never be able to understand how and why others think and feel as they do. Simple.

And, as a leader, you must understand how the people in your team, organization, business, and or family, or friend network think and feel. Very important.

Having an impact starts with us. Each of us. Understanding how and why we think and feel as we do is a necessity in any leadership role. Any and all leadership roles.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Thinking

An entire article, nay, book can be written about how we think in regards to, well, just about everything in life. Leadership included. It’s that important.

In fact, how we think drives everything else we will discuss in this article. It all starts with the mind. The quality of our mind. Meaning? Good question.

As I’ve written about in other articles, human beings are meaning-makers. Meaning, pun intended, that we take in data, information or stimuli, and we convert those stimuli, whatever they are, into narratives.

We do this to make sense of the world, and our place in it. A simple example can illustrate this point.

If my thinking is about the past, and all of the wrongs I’ve suffered, or bad things that have happened, I will bring these thoughts, feelings, verbalizations, and actions into the present moment. And?

I, in essence, will recreate the past. Reliving, as possible, past trauma again and again. And, so will everyone else I am interacting with and in relationship with.

Photo by Zachary Kadolph on Unsplash

However, if I am aware of my thoughts, and how I think, I can work on the thought impressions, called samskaras in sanskrit, and, over time, release them.

When they are released they stop showing up as a thought. It takes time.

These samskaras, thought impressions of old patterns and habits, loose power when you inquire into why they are there in the first place. Meaning, that creating self-awareness for a leader is a crucial aspect of leadership development.

When we have some sense of our own self, we can step outside of those thought patterns or habits and create new ones.

And, it is in the creation of new thought patterns where true empowerment is found for leaders, first, yes, for themselves, and then for their teams, organizations, families, and friends.

There are four things I do on a regular basis to increase my self-awareness.

  1. Meditation
  2. Diet
  3. Exercise
  4. Coaching

Each of these contributes to self-awareness in unique ways, and they combine to increase clarity, calmness of mind, well-being, and insight into who you are as a human being, and how you relate to yourself and everyone else. Very important.

Photo by Caique Silva on Unsplash

Feeling

As was aforementioned, how we think really does affect, even predict, how we feel, speak, and act, and how we feel on a general level and even on a more specific level, which is very important.

Important to how we relate to ourselves and everyone else.

I grew up in a household where people definitely displayed emotion, yet it was still hidden, and definitely not talked about. And, that’s not a demerit. Why?

Because my parents were not shown how to understand their emotions and then how to constructively talk about them. It is far more normal, especially in the United States, than people might imagine. And?

Not helpful to your own development, nor is it to your teams, organizations, families, or friends. If you don’t know why you feel the way you do, you will not understand how others feel.

And, if you are unable to understand how you and the people around you feel, you cannot talk about feelings in productive and constructive ways.

However, when you know how you feel, understand why you feel as you do, and learn how to talk about emotions in healthy ways, you can navigate more complex conversations and situations as they arise.

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

And, in leadership roles, nay, in life, complex situations and conversations happen all the time. Sometimes every day.

In addition to meditation, diet, exercise, and weekly coaching, there are a couple of other things I do to understand my feelings and emotional state.

  1. Journaling
  2. Reflecting

Journaling, and reflecting upon how you feel, is a very important process; especially when we are truly interested in understanding how and why we feel as we do. Some questions I typically ask myself are as follows.

  1. What is the feeling that I am feeling?
  2. What is the thought that is driving that feeling?
  3. Where did that thought come from?

When you understand what you’re feeling, what thought is driving the feeling, and where the thought came from, you can begin to acknowledge the feeling.

When we can acknowledge how we truly feel, we can then release that feeling once we’ve gained true understanding. And, true understanding may mean working on a thought/feeling combination for some time.

Now, I’ve written most of this section with an assumption in mind. That, the work we do to understand how we feel, is needed mostly when we experience “negative” feelings, or emotions.

The emotions and associated feelings that bring us pain, discomfort, worry, and anxiety, for instance.

Photo by Anh Nguyen on Unsplash

Why is it important to work on these “negative” emotions and feelings?

Because if we don’t understand how we feel and why we feel as we do, we will regularly give out all of that “negative” emotion to other people. And?

And, then, yes, we are giving out all of our anger, frustration, sadness, or whatever other feeling we have to everyone around us, and we are doing so unintentionally.

If you want to see an example of how this looks, just go to the grocery store and hang out for a while. You will encounter someone that is completely unaware of their emotional state. It won’t take long.

It happens all the time, every day. As was aforementioned, especially in the United States, where there is still, yes even in 2020, stigma about talking about our emotions. Not helpful and extremely unhealthy.

Now, understanding our feelings does not mean that we run out and tell everyone that we meet that we are frustrated, for instance, and here are the reasons why. A paradox? Yes?

Understanding your emotions and why you feel as you do, helps you do the exact opposite.

When we understand why we feel as we do, we can hold our emotions more, and find the right times to talk about them in appropriate ways; meaning healthy and constructive ways. Very important.

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

In Closing

Alright, though I have more to say on both of the aforementioned topics, for now, that concludes the first part of this second installment in the leadership series. Next?

We will take a look at Leadership Sociology. And, yep, you are correct, Leadership Sociology and Leadership Psychology are connected. They influence each other. A reciprocal relationship, if you like.

For now, remember, leadership psychology as defined here, understanding how we think and feel is an important first step in developing ourselves, yes, as leaders, and even more importantly as human beings.

When we are open to our own development, we can create contexts that are growth-oriented for everyone. It works that way.

Remember, it starts with you, with me, with each of us. Therefore, when we catch ourselves looking outside of ourselves for answers to why we think and feel as we do, we must remember to look within.

Because, my friends, within ourselves is the only place we will find the answers.

#coaching, #diet, #emotionalintelligence, #emotions, #exercise, #feeling, #journaling, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershippsychology, #meditation, #mindfulness, #reflecting, #samskaras, #self-development, #thinking, #thinkingandfeeling, #thoughtimpressions, #understandingyourself

The Leadership Series Part 1: What is Leadership, and Why is it so Important?

Leadership As A Part of Everyday Life

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I am always thinking about, learning about, and practicing leadership. Really. Always. It is such an important concept and practice. Yes, professionally, and even more importantly, for me, in every aspect of my life.

Why?

Well, that’s what we’ll look at in this new series. There are so many questions to look at and discuss when it comes to leadership. Seriously. So many. Here are just a couple.

  • Why is leadership such an important concept?
  • Why is it so important to practice?
  • Why is it important to understand?
  • What are the types of leadership?
  • Why are there so many types?
  • What’s the right type for me?
  • How do I become a leader?

And? Oh, there are so many more.

Alright, in this first article, we are going to unpack leadership as a concept and practice. Ready? Great. Let’s get started by defining leadership. Yep. here we go.

leadership

Pronunciation /ˈlēdərˌSHip/ /ˈlidərˌʃɪp/ 

See synonyms for leadership

Translate leadership into Spanish

NOUN

The action of leading a group of people or an organization.

The state or position of being a leader.

The leaders of an organization, country, etc.

Lexico

Okay. Here we see that leadership is identified with leading a group of people or organization or being in a leadership position.

Yet, what does that really mean?

Before we get to that question, let’s try one more definition. The definitions are all a little different. Here we go.

leadership

noun US  /ˈliː.dɚ.ʃɪp/ UK  /ˈliː.də.ʃɪp/

the set of characteristics that make a good leader

the position or fact of being the leader

Cambridge Dictionary

Alright, we now have an additional concept in this new definition. Leadership in this definition is also associated with a particular set of characteristics. Yet, which ones? Hm. Confusing.

And, now?

Well, let’s assuage some of our confusion by unpacking these definitions, shall we? Good. Here we go.

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Leadership as Leading People

Right, so leading people. Yes, yes, that is a part of leadership. Or, as I usually like to write, one piece of a whole. The whole you ask? Good question.

The whole of leadership as a principle and practice is a system. And, like all systems, it starts with each of us. The way we think and feel about leadership; our hopes, dreams, goals, and objectives. Yep, all of them.

In fact, all leadership starts with leading oneself. What does that mean?

It means that the way we treat ourselves, the principles and values we believe in, and the way we practice those principles and values are exactly how we lead.

Some people think that you can lead your life at home one way, and then lead your life at work in another way. Not so. Believe me, I’ve tried it. It just doesn’t work.

How you lead at home is the same as the way you lead at work. They are one.

Photo by Yoann Boyer on Unsplash

Some of you right now might be thinking, as I once did, that’s not true; I have a set of values at home and a different set of values at work.

However, I am inviting you to consider that, in fact, believing that we hold different values at home than we hold at work is mere confusion. And?

That confusion will seep out into all that we do.

We can call that discord. And, that discord will confuse you, yes, and everyone else around you. Really. And, with confusion comes tension, disagreement, and disengagement.

The soultion?

Well, getting clear on your principles and values is a start. As is understanding why you treat yourself as you do; meaning, creating an awareness of yourself for yourself. Important. Then?

Let go of the principles and values that no longer serve you, and create new ones. We are creative beings first, and leaders second. All of us. Create symmetry between the self you are at home and the self you are at work.

You are one person after all. Create the leader you know yourself to be. One step at a time. Then?

Creating leadership symmetry

  1. What are your hopes, dreams, and aspirations?
  2. What do you value and why?
  3. Why are you the person you are today?
  4. Why do you do what you do?

And, then?

Create symmetry between your personal life and your professional life. As was aforementioned, they are one and the same anyway. Time to connect the two. There is tremendous power in this conceptual and practical example. And, then?

Well, with symmetry and practice, you will lead people. And, you will lead them from a space that is centered and clear on what you intend to create.

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Leadership as a Position

Leadership is not a position. Director, supervisor, and manager are a position, or even better yet, are a title.

Leadership is a philosophy and a practical way you live your life. Every aspect of your life in fact. If you think about leadership as a position, then?

You will create separateness between leadership and other aspects of your life. And, as we’ve just discussed, that leads to confusion and disengagement. You from yourself, and your team from you.

It is inevitable. People know when we are genuine and authentic. They can feel it, they can see it, and they can hear it. Simple.

One of the reasons people struggle in leadership is they are not clear on who they are as a human being. Listen, it’s not a demerit. I once had this same issue, and?

It’s hard. Very hard.

When you are not clear on who you are, how can you be clear on who your team is? You cannot. It’s just not possible. What is possible?

Get clear on you

  • Why are you a leader?
  • What do you value in leadership?
  • What types of leadership do you associate yourself with?
  • What kinds of impact do you want to make in this world?
  • What change do you want to create?

I could go on. Well, and we will, in future posts. For now, know that there are two things at this stage that are critical.

  1. Understanding yourself.
  2. Understanding your leadership style.

And, we will cover both of these topics in the next two articles. Now, let’s take a look at leadership as characteristics.

Photo by Daoudi Aissa on Unsplash

Leadership as Characteristics

There are many places to look for and find lists, articles, even whole books on leadership characteristics. And?

Well, it is important to understand these characteristics, yet it is just as important to understand that these characteristics are a product of what leaders believe and think, and how they act.

Meaning, that understanding characteristics are only as good as actually developing a relationship with yourself, and understanding how that relationship will translate into your personal leadership style.

Here are a few leadership characteristics I think are pretty important.

  • Authenticity
  • Inspiration
  • Vulnerability
  • Influence
  • Clarity
  • Vision
  • Grit
  • Determination
  • Perseverance
  • Compassion
  • Empathy
  • Integrity
  • Self-awareness
  • Accountability
  • Collaboration
  • Passion

Know there are many more. These are the ones I’m most present to now, and the ones that I’m always present to actually.

Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

Leadership as Life

I prefer to think about and practice leadership as another part of my life. A very important part of my life. Really.

If we think about leadership in regard to taking care of and leading ourselves through life, and then expand that to include the other people in our lives, it’s very important.

Let’s close this first installment with a few quotes, shall we? Good. Here we go.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

Benchmark

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Benchmark

“As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence.” – Lao Tzu

Benchmark

There we go.

Inspiration is an important part of leadership. And? Well, the leader must first find their inspiration, as we’ve discussed, and, then? It will go out to everyone else. Fun.

Ah, yes, collaboration is such an important leadership characteristic. Difficult, and yet so much fun and so worth the process.

I am fond of saying to the team I work on something like, you know we chose to institute the collaborative model we use today. It’s not the easiest way to do things, yet we believe it is the best way.

Lao Tzu makes a lovely point here about influence. When a team is rallied around a common purpose or goal, it is infectious, and it is as if the leader simply disappears. In fact, each person on the team, in their own way, becomes a leader. Beautiful.

Alright, we’ve made it to the conclusion of the first entry into this new series on leadership. And, I am excited about continuing it with you.

In the next installment, we will take a look at leadership from the perspective of the self. It is, as we’ve discussed, where everything starts.

And, it is exactly where we will start again next time.

#clarity, #collaboration, #helenkeller, #influence, #inspiration, #johnadams, #laotzu, #leadership, #leadershipasasystem, #leadershipaslife, #leadershipconcepts, #leadershipdefined, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipmindset, #leadershipprinciples, #leadershipquestions, #leadershipsymmetry, #leadershipvalues, #leading-people, #leadingorganizations, #selfdevelopment, #strategy, #vision

3 Paradoxes of Leadership All Leaders Should Know

A Journey From the Unknown to the Known

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I often write about paradoxes, well, because life is full of them. Really. And, as we recognize a paradox, we are poised to reconcile what is seemingly unknown into something that is known. Yep.

And, how does that aid leaders? Well, first, I consider leadership something that lives inside of everyone. Yep.

Leadership is something we can all do; and, in fact, leadership is something that most of us already do. Really. In some way in our life, we lead. Even if the leading you do is just for you; you are still leading.

And, we also know that in leadership the self is where it all starts. Yep. Also tue. Leadership goes out from you to everyone and everything else. It’s just how it works.

Leaders also need to know that most things are unknown, and that we know far less than is knowable. Important.

Therefore, inside of a paradox, there is an opportunity to turn something unknown into known, which is helpful for yourself, yep, and for everyone you are leading.

Now, before we go further, let’s define leadership, so we are all on the same page. Okay? Good. Here we go.

leadership

Pronunciation /ˈlēdərˌSHip/ /ˈlidərˌʃɪp/ 

NOUN

The action of leading a group of people or an organization.

The state or position of being a leader.

Lexico

Right. Pretty ambiguous. Hm.

Let’s try lead instead. Here we go.

lead

Pronunciation /lēd/ /lid/ 

TRANSITIVE VERB led

[WITH OBJECT]

Cause (a person or animal) to go with one by holding them by the hand, a halter, a rope, etc. while moving forward.

Show (someone or something) the way to a destination by going in front of or beside them.

Lexico

Ah, much better. Here is what we have so far. A leader is someone that goes with someone, or shows someone something by going in front of or beside them. Very good.

Alright, so what are these three paradoxes? Right. Let’s get right into our discussion, shall we? Good. Here we go.

Photo by Kevar Whilby on Unsplash

1. The Real and The Ideal

As a leader it is important to know the current reality. Meaning to know your strengths and weaknesses, and that of the teams. Super important. Yet, that’s not all. Nope.

You must also communicate that reality, and do so often. One of the most important functions in leadership is setting the pace and the reality. A reality that will include both strengths and weaknesses. It has to.

We all have areas to develop, as do teams, and when we own them, guess what?

We have now created a context that welcomes development, one that is open and growth-oriented. Fun.

Now, once you know and have communicated the current reality, it is time to begin to balance the real (current state or reality) with the ideal (future state or reality). Very important.

And, how this is done is predicated on knowing that everything we do today informs tomorrow, and that tomorrow is simply a mirror of today. Yep. Say more? Of course. Here we go.

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

2. Today and Tomorrow

Alright, so when we cast a vision for our life or our team, we are setting down in language that which we want to accomplish in a certain amount of time. Might be a week, a month, a year, or several years. Depends.

What matters is that we tie that vision, those specific goals, to objectives and priorities that we can set our sights on and work towards each day. Yep.

When we connect our daily actions to our long-term goals, we are actively creating tomorrow today. Wait, what? Yes. It’s true.

When we take actions today that are connected to goals we have in the future, we are creating our future from this very moment. Therefore, when we take action today, tomorrow ends up being a mirror of today. Meaning?

We are actively actualizing tomorrow’s goals today. One action at a time. Fun. And, truth.

The concept of creating your future from today is a very powerful concept for leaders, teams, and, well, everyone. And, what happens when we create a context full of this type of possibility?

Well, we lead, yes, and so do those around us. It works that way.

Photo by Joseph Pearson on Unsplash

3. Lead and Follow

Right, so leadership as we’ve defined it has to do with going out in front, paving the way, if you will, with a vision that ties back to objectives and priorities that you, and your team, if you have one, work on each day. Yep.

And, when you are out in front like that, sometimes, you will have to pull back a bit, as the team moves closer to you. Yep. Or, if they are moving quickly, you may have to go out in front even further. Depends. And, guess what?

Sometimes, your team will move right on past you. Yep. Can and does happen. It is a beautiful thing to see really. And, when that happens?

No problem here, you, like they would, catch back up. Simple. The point?

That leadership is a complex, and yet very simple, set of relationships you have. First with yourself. Always with yourself first. And, then with everyone else around you.

Relationships are leadership. And, leadership is about having high-quality relationships. Yep. Bottom line? Sure.

Leaders lead and follow, both. They are, in fact, one and the same. Not separate at all. One.

Alright, so there are three leadership paradoxes that, when we have an awareness of how they function, create a context where we are connecting the unknown of tomorrow, or 5 years from now, to today. Meaning?

That we are creating the known from the unknown. In this very moment, in fact. And, well, that’s fun, and powerful.

#creatingthefuture, #fromtheunknowntothenkown, #humandevelopment, #leadandfollow, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipmindset, #leadershipparadox, #therealandtheideal, #todayandtomorrow

The Paradox of Servant Leadership

Why Care, Compassion, and Accountability Are Engaging

Photo by Cam Bradford on Unsplash

I’m always reflecting upon service. It’s always been a big part of my life. I started out in the “service industry” at 16, and never, really, ever looked back.

What I’ve been reflecting upon even more recently, is just how important service is in, well, everything we do. It’s not just about the work we do, in the professional sense.

It’s more about all of the work we do. All of it. And, it starts with each of us, and how we take care of and, in effect, serve ourselves. Really.

I was telling a colleague of mine today, as they prepared to train a group of local leadership, that in order to hold other people accountable, we must first hold ourselves accountable. It’s how it works.

Something this colleague knows very well indeed.

And, as was aforementioned, service is no exception to this rule. In order to serve others, we must first learn to serve ourselves.

Photo by Jernej Graj on Unsplash

We are all looking for places to serve. Places where we can make a difference, where we can be a part of something larger than ourselves. A paradox? Yep.

Because in order to be a part of something larger than yourself, you must first be in touch with yourself, know yourself, treat yourself with love and kindness, and hold yourself accountable to a standard.

A standard that is engaged with and committed to creating and effecting change. Changing that which we know, the status quo, with something, well, quite different.

Within this possibility, there are innumerable opportunities to serve. Fun.

Alright, ready? Good. Here we go.

Servant Leadership

I’ve written a couple of articles about servant leadership, which includes, The Blog + Video Series #14: Servant Leadership: A Practical Leadership Style for Life and Work.

The basic tenant of servant leadership is that service is paramount to leadership as a philosophy and a practice. Both.

That to lead, we must lead from a perspective that fully understands that nothing happens without the entire team; and, that, it is because of each team members contribution to the team that movement and traction are even possible.

Servant leadership upends the traditional leadership hierarchy, putting the needs of front-line workers first. Important.

Photo by Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis on Unsplash

And, as we’ve already discussed, servant leadership is, both conceptually and practically, a leadership style that works for all aspects of life.

When we take care of ourselves and lead from within, we can then take care of others and lead from without. If not, well, true leadership of any kind is impossible.

Sometimes there is confusion about servant leadership.

Meaning that people sometimes connect servant leadership to a laissez faire type context. And, servant leadership both conceptually and practically is far from that type of context.

In fact, a servant leadership context will often be full of standards and expectations that are higher than other leadership contexts. Yep. Common. Why?

Well, inside of serving, as was aforementioned, is the need to create change. Creating new possibilities, new ways of communicating, new ways of, well, doing most things.

When you create a context that is committed to changing the status quo, no matter how small or large that change is, there have to be higher standards and expectations.

And, in some cases, the highest standard must be demanded. Why?

Photo by john vicente on Unsplash

Because there is so much more to accomplish. That’s it really. More work, more movement, more traction, more change. Amazing.

And, where there is change and innovation of this magnitude, there must be great care, compassion, and accountability, both for the self, the team, and the organization. And, yep, for the nation, and the world too.

Care

What is engagement, really? When you think about that word, what do you see, or think about? Hm.

For me, I think about contexts that are brimming with challenges and difficulties, yep, and celebrations. Why?

Because when you are truly engaged with yourself, and the people around you, you will experience both. You have to.

Being engaged, is living a full life, and the giving out of that life to everyone around you. It is extremely fun and rewarding and, yep, also difficult.

All service, regardless of the context, professional or personal, requires determination, persistence, and resilience. Oh, and great care. Yep.

When you are engaged, you care. Simple. Oftentimes, people get confused and think that when things are difficult that there is a problem. A paradox? Yep.

Photo by Zach Vessels on Unsplash

When things are difficult, you are engaged, you are doing, and you are creating. No problem here.

When are there problems?

Well, if you subscribe to notions of problems, then the only time there are real problems is when there is disengagement. Where things are easy, moving simply, no speed bumps. Why?

Because, if there are no issues, nothing to overcome, then, nothing is really happening. Yep.

Now, that’s not really a problem either. Not really.

It’s only a problem if you are looking to be engaged. I always know when I am most engaged at work or in my life. How?

Because there is always, and I mean always, something to celebrate, and something to overcome. A challenge, always.

These engaging contexts also require, as was aforementioned, great care. Really. Why?

Because when you are fully engaged, and are working through issues that arise, care about all things and everyone, yourself, and all those around you, is always there.

And, that is because you are going through something.

You are developing, iterating, and, yep, in some cases, even transforming. Beautiful.

Photo by Gita Krishnamurti on Unsplash

Compassion

Because a servant leadership context is a highly engaging one, where people will bring their all every day, compassion is also required.

Compassion for yourself, for how very, very hard it is sometimes, and for those around you. Sometimes, people will decide it’s just too much, and that is okay.

There was a time when I desperately wanted everyone to stay. And, I would coach people endlessly to this end. No pun intended.

Yet, a servant leadership context is not what everyone is looking for, and that is also okay. Knowing this releases you and everyone else from an obligation that truly doesn’t exist.

And, practicing compassion is what that looks like. Understanding that people will leave. And, guess what?

It’s better for them to do so.

Better to find a context that suits them more, feels better to them, and will in the long run be much more beneficial for them. Important.

Accountability

One of the most paradoxical aspects of servant leadership is in the area of accountability. And, there was a time where accountability within a servant leadership paradigm also confused me.

The bottom line?

Accountability matters. People actually want to be held accountable to a higher standard. Knowing that their work and service, whatever it is, is making a change in the world.

Photo by Louis Reed on Unsplash

Again, no matter how small or large that change is, matters much less, than that people get to participate in something that, yes, inspires them, and, even more importantly, actively creates change in the world. Fun.

It is a ton of work. Yep. Yet, who ever said that life was supposed to be easy?

I know. That is such a cliche, and yet it does work here.

Think about any change, nay, think about some of the largest institutional and cultural changes of all time. Now, answer this question.

Were they easy?

Nope, not a single one. They are not supposed to be. Therefore, having a high standard and instituting accountability is not only needed, it is also positively reinforcing the servant leadership context that has been created. How?

Because serving yourself, setting the highest standard for yourself that you can, means that you will also set that same standard for the people around you. And?

They will rise to meet it, just as you are.

For more on Servant Leadership check out these resources.

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