3 July 2020

Leaders, dare to be who you truly are!

“Without freedom from the past, there is no freedom at all, because the mind is never new, fresh and innocent’ J. Krishnamurti
Looking back at the work I have done with leaders and senior managers, I can’t help but notice a distinctive leitmotif: they are not always aware of the power they can find within their personal story.Our early life experiences between the ages of 0 and 7 (parents, teachings, education, social, family life) shape us in our beliefs and patterns. They condition our behaviors in our adulthood, therefore generating our autopilot mode: the fight, fright, flight mode. Naturally, there also have developed creative patterns with great strengths, turning aspiring leaders into high energy performers.However, the current Covid-19 crisis has amplified this cruise control mode, highlighting our anxieties and stressing out our uncertainties. Leaders and Managers under business pressure find themselves caught in the maelstrom of these reactive tendencies and do not have the key to lift their foot up from the gas pedal. These old mechanisms from their personal past hamper them to shift into a creative mindset as most of them grew up speaking a language that compares, demands, labels, judges instead of being aware of what are their needs and their feelings.Some leaders do have a distinct frontier between the Personal and the Professional. Indeed, for them, these two worlds never seem to overlap with one another. However, they do not realize that wherever they go, whoever they speak with, they still carry their past with them. In effect, the past is always present in a tangible and intangible way where they keep repeating the same old routines that the outside world fully sees and/or feels, regardless of their conscious/unconscious attempts to hide it.It becomes even more pertinent for those who share a painful past: they tend to cover it. However, when they invest their time to open that door for a personal leadership work, they find out very quickly that they can transform their pain into a resourceful potential, not only for themselves, but also for their team and all the stakeholders in the organization.
Generally speaking, not facing the pain and the sorrow of personal stories brings negative bias. Leaders who ignore their past start controlling their team with an autocratic behavior, filled with micromanagement and no delegation at all. To them, in a world where we need to rationally know everything, it seems almost impossible to even remotely consider saying “I do not know”. They hide behind aggressive, complying, passive or distant behavior which are signs of cutting themselves off from what is going on within themselves. This is how internal assumptions are born: “I have to be the best”, “everything has to be perfect”, “I am safe if I avoid risks”, “ I am not good enough” etc.Once they start to connect the dots between their personal hidden and unconscious patterns with their actual inner thoughts, behaviors, beliefs and habits, they become aware of them, transform them and reduce the personal burden of survival instinct. Only then does the process of transformation start: the key in leadership position is self-awareness. Then, the mind gets an upgrade, with a shift in consciousness, and the spectrum of reality is broadened with a more positive and holistic approach.With this on-going on process of transformation, unveiling some of the non-visible part of the iceberg, leaders naturally will focus less on themselves and more on others. The understanding of personal negative biases will help them to become tolerant and non-judgmental, more open and thus will develop better listening and caring skills. Values such as courage, authenticity and integrity will take greater importance in their lives. They will also have the capacity to make tough decisions when required therefore leading to considerable teamwork achievements through open and clear exchanges. Hence, an energy is unleashed for greater purpose and global vision.

Leadership is about owning our own personal story, transforming it and becoming the Architect of our life.

“No mud, no lotus” – Thich Nhat Hanh

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