What does it really mean to lead from who we are? In an age when we have a plethora of alternatives- we can be transactional, transformational, distributed, collaborative, situational…….can it really be quite so simple as to, well just be ourselves?
Gareth Jones and Rob Goffee (authors of “why should anyone be led by you?”) seem to think so. Maggie Ellis (Business consultant and Director of “LifeCentre”) who speaks extensively on leading from your “core” seems to think so and whether we are considering our congruent self or our mindful self, there seems to be an increasing momentum towards what can only be described as being, well, real- who we really are.
The question is how do we do such a seemingly simple thing? Have we spent so long trying to lead according to the latest trend that we have actually forgotten who we actually are?
Robert Dilts in his work on logical levels gives us a useful model to get back in touch with our “true self” I offer it in the hope that we can all re-gain that sense of balance that being connected with our deepest self offers.
Dilts offers us six levels or lenses through which to begin our exploration.
1. Higher purpose: Why do we do what we do? Why is it important to us?
2. Identity: How do we see ourselves? Henry Ford said that we cannot outperform our own self image- so what is ours?
3. Beliefs/Values: What do we believe about life? Ourselves? Others? What do we consider to be important?
4. Capabilities/skills/strengths: What are we good at doing? What things give us energy?
5. Behaviour: How do the previous 4 levels get reflected in how we behave? Show me your faith said St Paul, and I’ll show you my faith by what I do- does what we do reflect what we truly believe?
6. Environment: How do the previous 5 levels impact our environment? What kind of a difference do we make in the workplace? to our teams? to our organisations? to our families and wider relationships?
Being ourselves is not quite as easy as it sounds. At least when we nail our leadership colours to a transformational mast we may have some clear directives, core competencies to reflect. But being ourselves requires not conformity but alignment- it requires a consistency of practice, it demands a resilience when we meet opposition or conscious or unconscious cultural bias- it requires a greater focus on the legacy that we are to leave than the short term wins that we can make now.
Leading from who we are is a risky business- but a risk that gives us the opportunity to do the inner work that enables us all to make the greatest contribution.