Hear ye, hear ye. Break out the clichés please with fanfare and pomp!
Be your own superhero!
Be your own leading lady (or man)!
Be the captain of your own ship!
Take the helm. Take the wheel. Take the stick.
Be the leader in your own life!
We often hear pep-talk phrases like this that are impactful and meaningful, yet remarkably unactionable. Now, I don’t know anything about superhero-ing, acting, or sailing, but I do know about leadership.
In my day job, I work in organization and leadership development. I train, coach, acknowledge, and (more often than I’d wish) console people doing the challenging (and often thankless) work of leading others. I spend a good amount of my time thinking about, reading about, and learning about what it takes to successfully lead others in a way that fosters an environment where people lead themselves. Because that is the key to great leadership.
Whatever style or theory of leadership one ascribes to, when it comes to leading others (whether they be people you support at work, your family, or your book club) there is one common and necessary component without which people very quickly detect a fraud: the ability to lead oneself.
Personal leadership consists of three primary factors:
Being honest with and trusting oneself. Humbly consider what you do well and easily as well as where you struggle, your limiting beliefs, and what you avoid. Self-trust means you keep the commitments you make to yourself and that you are credible.
Being congruent and accountable to and for oneself. Yes, here goes Jenny talking about personal values again. Being credible and congruent requires that you know your values and (here comes the hard part) live by them. Personal accountability means you see what you want to do or what needs to be done, you own that want or need, and you work through any problems that may arise as you do what you set out to do.
Challenging oneself. Leadership (whether of self or others) isn’t about comfort. To effectively lead, you absolutely must strive to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s about leaning into the discomfort of uncertainty, unknowns, and unlearning. It’s about having the courage to become and be visible to yourself and to others in all your glorious, audacious, imperfect ways.
Part of me being a leader in my own life is this blog. I write to develop, articulate, and share my thoughts and lessons learned in the hopes that they meaningfully connect with you so that you meaningfully connect with yourself. I write because I want to show up to you in an honest, thoughtful, kind, and safely challenging way that influences you to do the same for yourself. In doing this, I have to let go of perfection, of having it all figured out, of the fear of what you all will think. It’s an almost constant conversation with myself as I practice leaning into discomfort, trusting myself, and holding myself accountable even when (especially when) it’s hard, messy, inconvenient, imperfect, and I don’t feel like it. It’s sometimes agonizing. It’s often a time crunch. It is always rewarding.
One of my favorite development books this year is The Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others by Kristi Hedges. This isn’t a typical leadership book in that Kristi doesn’t give you a stock-set of universal leader-like qualities that the reader should strive to imitate. Instead, she walks you through a discovery and action-planning process whereby you decide what you want your personal leadership to look like, how you want to show up to others, and what influence you want to have. On the journey to being a leader in your own life, it’s ultimately less about influencing and engaging others and more about influencing and engaging your whole self.
The Power of Presence is loaded with thoughtful, useful, and applicable activities and guidance. I’ve loaned my personal copy to no fewer than 10 people at work who quickly went and bought their own copy. I’ve modified one of the exercises from the book to make it relevant to personal leadership.
How do you want to show up to yourself?
- What qualities do you possess that you’d like to make visible? In other words, what do you like about yourself that you’d like to see more of?
- Now, think about qualities you admire in others who you think are leaders in their own lives.
- Make a list of the qualities and behaviors you see in them and witness from them that you admire and might want to adopt.
What actions do you need to regularly take to show up this way?
- Make a list.
- Pick one thing from the list and commit to it. When will you start? How will you know you’re doing it? How will you reinforce the behavior?
What behaviors do you need to avoid?
- Make a list.
- Pick one of these and commit to it. When will you start? How will you know you’re no longer doing it? How will you get yourself on track when you slip?
Give it a try and let me know your thoughts!
Check out my feed on Instagram @plenumcoaching for quotes, affirmations, and journal prompts.
Want to discover how you can cultivate yourself self and your relationships by getting clear on your thinking, values, beliefs, and goals so that you can commit to meaningful actions that move you toward where and who you want to be? Well, you’re in the right place because as a coach, that’s what I do!
Visit my Let’s Get Started page to learn more about coaching and schedule our first session together.
Not sure if coaching is right for you? I understand. Coaching represents a significant commitment of time and resources. It is important to me that you have all the information you need to make the best decision for yourself. I invite you to read about My Coaching Approach and to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have.
I look forward to hearing from you!