There is a lot of emphasis in leader development on knowing who you are. In other words, how you're authentically wired. This is a good thing.
Analyzing a leader's wiring is effective in making sure the leader finds the work best suited for their strengths. It helps organizations as they determine right fits for their structure. I can't think of a more liberating place to be than to see oneself doing what makes the heart come alive.
There are some downsides though.
As it is with a country who has lived under dictatorial rule for decades, so it is with leaders who've been squelched in their attempts to be authentic. But sometimes liberation can lead to license, or worse, addiction to self-empowerment. Almost like the liberators deciding that being a dictator is not so bad now that power is in hand.
The practical danger for leaders who discover they're authentic wiring comes when they believe the organization/team must submit to their way of seeing the world. For example, I'm the type of leader who needs to connect emotionally, before any type of transaction can occur. This is important to me. However, I can't expect that a client or partner will give me this every time we meet. I don't have to deny or give up my value (emotional connection), but I do have to practice the art of give and take. If I never receive the emotional connection, then certainly I'm in the wrong place/organization.
Here are some tips on how to prevent your wiring from overrunning your path to becoming a quality leader:
Make sure you're organization is a fit with your wiring. This is not about placing judgment on the quality or health of your organization. It's about what is the right fit for who you really are.
If you've just discovered your authentic wiring, don't begin to believe that the sun, moon and stars now revolve around you.
Learn to be a better communicator. You'll need this as you start to live out what was given within.
As Stephen Covey has said; "seek first to understand, then to be understood."
Focus on the needs of your followers, before your own. Leaders who do this build trust and loyalty.
The above video comes from Seal (one of my favorite artists) and I found it during that time of isolation. The director portrays well the idea of being alone (notice Seal singing and all of the people walking past him). I was struck by how connected I was to the theme.
Fortunately, I had wise mentors/advisors who told me that I would need to go through a period of aloneness. That counsel prepared me, but it didn't take away the pain. If you're reading this and don't have someone to give you direction, then email me and I will. No charge, just encouragement.
Now I can look back and see how that time was essential in remaking me into who I am today.
I've heard it many times before that who we really are is revealed in crisis. I didn't fully own that reality until I tasted my own crises. Taste is a humbling thing.
I'm sitting at church yesterday and we're listening to a message on marriage relationships. And it occurred to me that my wife is probably the only human on the planet that can speak with authority on who I really am. I did think about running out screaming a few choice words, but I refrained.
Last night I asked my wife about what she saw when I was exposed and found transparent a few years ago. She told me she saw change. The foundation/core was consistent with who she knew me to be. But there was a change being formed before here eyes-with pain included.
So why the attempt at avoiding the crises? More than likely most have never been mentored/taught on the benefits. Let's face it, we tend to prefer the yellow brick road. I think the road to ruin is paved that way. It's difficult these days to dispense words like these because there are far too many messages to the contrary. Competing with those messages authentically can be a challenge. I'm glad my heart is in this.
The conclusion is this; leaders are defined in the times of exposure and transparency. This applies to all of us.
If you're like me, a type A, then the idea of one more call or sentence is a lure. But the reality is we reach diminishing return well before we think. This is not only an issue for type A people. It really flows through our culture (in America at least) the idea of time versus results.
I know a COO of a new non-profit start up that is instituting a 35 hour work week-mandatory. He believes efficiency fades after 35 hours. How innovative!
I wonder how many of our working hours are made up diminishing returns? I would say a minimum of 20%, and I think I'm being conservative. Especially when you line up work hours with the stated mission of many organizations.
In the end, the most important thing is to know the following:
What's the most important thing to be accomplished.
Figure out how to get the most important things done.
Make sure you have the resources needed to get those things done.