We learn how to lead at an early age…
I have been using the term LeaderSELF for over 5 years. When I say it, everyone responds with a ‘WOW, that makes so much sense!” It got me thinking, I should probably write about how it all begins, and how it translates into the everyday.
Our current way of ‘training’ leaders is not wrong. It has been built on the foundation of Newtonian thinking; we live in a mechanistic world. There are a plethora of courses available on ‘managing’ your time, energy and resources, yet it doesn’t guarantee good leaders. I believe there is another aspect that is emerging.
It begins with the journey inwards and a willingness to understand the underlying belief structures we have about leading. This means going back to the beginning; to our family systems. Our very first experience of being led were by those who had power and authority, our parents, or the people who took care of us growing up. These individuals include mom and dad, grandparents, older siblings, aunts/uncles, babysitters, teachers, etc… Each played a unique role in shaping the beliefs and values we developed around what it means to lead, and, what it means to be led.
Going back in time…
For the purpose of this blog, I’m going to paint some very broad strokes. From the beginning we see and experience leading as an external experience. Our parents told us what to do and we might have reacted by either complying, questioning, some rebelling. It may have played out like this:
- Compliant: Follow the rules without question = You have absolute trust, until it is broken.
- Challenging: Questions those we perceive to have power and authority = You might be labeled as challenging, disruptive, or seen as exasperating.
- Rebellious: Rebels against rules = You might be seen as a disruptor, a problem and needed to be managed.
Do you see yourself in one of those examples?
The way you lead may be a result of the experiences from the category you most identified with, and, all of this happens below the surface; out of our awareness.
We re-create our family system
We tend to develop the patterns and strategies based on our experiences. This might lead to judging the people we are leading in the same way, or the opposite of how we were judged. We either take on, or rebel against the behaviour we observed or experienced from those who were in authoritative positions. We re-create our family system in the workplace or within the family unit.
- You might take on the role of the leader that tells others what to do, with the expectation that they will follow without question. You may see those who question as being challenging, and those who rebel as being disruptive.
- Alternately you might identify with the people you lead. They react in a similar manner as you, so you reward their behaviours because you see yourself in them.
- Or, you might decide to lead in way as an act of rebellion. You might ‘go with the flow’ and let those in your charge do what they want because you were always told what to do. Or you become a micromanager because no one gave you boundaries.
There is no good/bad/right or wrong here. It is a matter of noticing. We learn our leadership styles and patterns at an early age. As children we observe EVERYTHING! The result: the beliefs, patterns and stragegies we develop around leading run quietly in the background impacting all areas of our life. These beliefs determine how we lead in our family, the workplace, with friends or groups we belong to. And, there is no one way of being a leader. Your style of leading may change based on the ‘audience’ and circumstance.
Awareness, space and choosing differently…
Being a leader is complex. There is no easy fix, AND, there is nothing to fix. I do believe, that with awareness and a willingness to notice what goes on inside of you, you will begin to perceive and understand situations and/or individuals differently. Awareness creates space; space creates opportunities to make different choices. Making different choices shapes the world we live in. Leading from an internal reference point requires going within to explore the events that shaped us and learning how to move beyond established beliefs, values and attitudes.
What kind of leader are you? Can you identify some of the beliefs, patterns and strategies you carry that shape your style of leading? Let’s start the conversation…
Until the next time!