Are You Creating Your Map to Becoming a Better Leader?
There was a point in time, way back, when I thought I had the potential for leadership. This was when I first read the book ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’. It was a little over twenty years ago now. At that time, I was in the Navy and somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
A few things about that first reading have stuck in my mind since. The first was the notion of walking through one city using the map of another. The idea was that you might be in the right place but using the wrong principles or priorities (the wrong map). Second, was how difficult it was to comprehend many of the ideas. Creating a personal mission statement seemed appealing but I found it difficult to wrap my head around how mine could be unique.
Who do you want to be when you grow up?
There is no substitute for experience in becoming the person we were meant to be, but had I known then what I know now I would have understood the question better. “Who do you want to be when you grow up?” requires an answer more profound than “I want to be a firefighter.” This is certainly a noble profession, but to fully answer that question requires a deeper understanding of who we are and what values we hold dearest. Becoming our best selves requires introspection, or as Frankl once wrote, “We detect rather than invent our mission in life.” This includes the necessity of practice in achieving this goal.
Who are you becoming as a leader?
In a recent interview I watched, the interviewer asks the Dalai Lama if he felt he were enlightened.
The Dalai Lama admits that he does not feel he is enlightened yet.
The interviewer then asks “What hope is there for me if you, the Dalai Lama himself, cannot find enlightenment?”
He responds, “Enlightenment is not a matter of position, but a matter of practice.”
With Transformational Leadership, I continue practicing guidance and try to take it to another level. One of the first learnings that I took from the class is summed up in this phrase, often repeated by Greg Goates, the instructor: ‘Who are you becoming as a leader?’ The wording says it all-not who will you be but who are you becoming? To be a great leader requires constant and consistent practice. With each step comes new knowledge, which requires new practice. We will always be becoming, never arriving.
What are the critical areas that will change your leadership?
I have reflected over the different critical areas in our lives that affect how we are as leaders. This began for me with trust and how we build that using the four cores of credibility, along with the six streams of leadership competency. In all, these areas include:
- Trust (5 waves proposed by Stephen M.R. Covey: Self-trust, Relationship, Organizational, Market, Societal)
- The Four Cores of Credibility (Integrity, Intent, Capabilities, and Results)
- Somatic Intelligence
- Emotional Intelligence
- Relational Intelligence
- Cognitive Intelligence
- Spiritual Intelligence
- Integrative Intelligence
The Transformational Leadership course was helpful in taking many parts of information received over the years and fitting them together to start mapping out my own path. It has helped me see more clearly what my goals need to be and how to put practices into place to start rearranging what I have allowed it to become over the years. We all work on a map, but if we don’t actively draw it out then it will become increasingly more like it belongs to someone else.
A great deal of my map has been drawn by other people: teachers, supervisors and parents. By being successful in some areas (the easy areas), I’ve limited myself by not expanding to areas in which I’m unsure of how I would perform.
What are some of the key topics on which you can focus to increase your potential as a transformational leader?
This list may take a different meaning for you, but for me it has mapped out the following:
Being a great leader requires that we are congruent in all areas of our life.
As we worked in our peer groups, the talk drifted significantly into our personal lives and how we could apply what we had learned into that area. At first it was hard for me to get this; I expected this to be a course about leading at work. As we worked through it further, it really became clear that being a good leader requires a consistent set of values which function the same in our work life as they do in our personal life. For years I’ve had work and life balance drilled into me. The idea that work and personal life should be separate, subtly implying that we should be different at the two. Now I need to shift my mindset to work and life congruence. I can separate my activities to maintain a balance between them, but my values and personality should not change throughout.
Determine and physically write down values and priorities in life.
How can you remember what you’re thinking today when you are so busy with activities that may or may not be important? Without having a list, you’ll continue to put towns on your map that will grow into larger cities. To re-create a map that matches the city in which we live requires a lot of time. We begin tearing down towns in one spot to build the right town in another. Much of our map has probably been built and reinforced for a long time by others and to change it, we have to keep notes about what is and isn’t working.
Focus on an area of growth and put weekly practices in place to engrain the values needed to achieve that growth.
Don’t try to put everything in practice at once. Don’t make the mistake of believing that you should naturally be good at all of the things that you need to put into practice. This is one of the difficulties with the concept of personal change- it’s not always easy to be the person we are meant to be. To become this person requires vision and understanding of what is not yet, but what is becoming. This is an area of internal struggle for me. It is hard to understand where I’m supposed to be heading, without already having the concrete evidence that at the end of the chosen path I’ll actually find myself.
Find your passion, find success.
I’ve learned that success is often defined incorrectly. In today’s society, we look for tangible ways to measure things. The fact is success is about being able to perform in the capacity at which you desire to perform. It’s much easier to judge people by how much they are paid than by how well they fit the role in which they are functioning.
Coaching is an important aspect of becoming a leader and leading others.
It is necessary to apply this practice daily. I have two employees I supervise. While taking in these concepts, I have been able to coach and inquire within them what they want out of their own career. This practice has allowed us to work together to tailor their tasks to better achieve their goals. We are working on drawing a map that creates more interest and engagement in their personal practice.
How will you make an impact?
In the end, I have focused a lot of my attention on the fact that most of us make an impact beyond what we can see. We can clearly see an impact on a small scale through the influence we have on our families and how we affect our communities. In twenty years, my daughter may not remember every specific thing that I have taught her but she will remember that I was both a student and a teacher. I will remember the small nuances of the lessons I’ve learned in this class.
You may not remember me and I may not see the impact I have on you, but maybe someone reading this will be better off for the information I’m passing on. I’ve identified learning and educating as two of my key values, causing me to be happy to have the opportunity to share the information I have learned and to take this journey with you. What are some key values you can use to draw your own map?