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What first comes to mind, might be QUIT! Or maybe one thinks of a communist
regime, but how to be a liberated leader is a deeper thinking bit of guidance than both. Inspired by the words from a recent coaching client, feeling liberated is about “being free to be me” or acting authentically. Instead of feeling free, most leaders w
e work with would answer the question of “Who are you authentically?” with another question: “At home or at work?” Wouldn’t it be energizing, uplifting, and even freeing if you could just be you, no matter where you might be? But, how do you liberate yourself from all the pressure to be someone you’re not, lead in a way you wouldn’t, or behave in ways others think you should? With these liberated leader Monday Moment methods.
First, Stop Shoulding
This phrase is frequently used and gets leaders laughing because it’s also frequently true. “Stop shoulding all over yourself!” The concept is simple. Stop compelling yourself to behave in unnatural ways or do things for years that don’t feel right, but that you are of the belief you should. The challenge with the belief and how it prevents leaders from behaving authentically, is most of the beliefs we hold true are not ones with which we argue. Rarely do we question things we believe and that have formed as “shoulds”, but maybe we should. Must you really be a CPA just because you have a finance degree? Should you always be strong and in charge if you’re a leader, husband, and daddy? Should you always be serious and all business when in a business meeting? Each leader’s answer may be different, but if your answer is limiting, it’s keeping you from feeling liberated and in any way energized about what you’re doing.
Second, Start Seeing
Wayne Dyer said “Believing is seeing”, but if you’re not a self help fan nor observant of how he reversed the typical order of that saying, then consider this: Seeing differences does not help you treat people differently. Believing people are different will help you see how to treat them differently. Then it is a matter of following what you believe. Much as shoulds stand in our way of giving ourselves permission to act freely, beliefs about what others intend, see, believe, mean to do to us, or need from us as leaders are also well engrained and something with which we don’t often argue. A leader who sees an employee as a difficult person will treat them accordingly. A leader who sees that same person as their opposite in need of radically different motivation and communication methods, will treat them perhaps in the ways that person needs. Which do you believe will free up more of your time spent in performance counseling conversations? What could you accomplish in your leadership role with that new found time and freedom?
Third, Start Being
I have worked with a number of leaders in the last ten years, from CEOs to front line supervisors, and many a manager and director in between. When coaching, what comes up most notably for these leaders is the desire to get what they need. For some it’s a challenge and ambitious promotion. For others, it’s details and a linear structure. For still more, it’s the desire to get along and not be mired in conflict and for the rest, it’s about how to get appreciated for even their mere existence. In other words, they want the permission, the skills, the confidence, and the ability to be content in their own skin. They want to be confident about who they are and the value inherent in them. They want others to treat them in ways they like to be treated and they want, without perhaps always using this word… freedom…to be themselves. However, no one needs to give you, or any other leader, permission to be yourself. The biggest barrier to feeling free to act authentically is that pesky, persistent, should filled, internal voice and system of beliefs. Perhaps the bigger question is when do you think it would be okay to share the authentic value of who you really are with the team you lead? When do you think it would be okay to speak up in the meeting instead of keeping quiet because it’s safer? When do you think it would be okay to ask the tough questions? When do you think it would be good to say no to the person who is always taking advantage of you, once and for all? When do you take off the costume of who you should be and actually give yourself permission to act authentically? When you do, it will be truly liberating.
When a leader feels liberated, it’s much easier to see what they hadn’t seen or described before. Some call is suppression, or an oppressive environment of their own making. Some leaders tell me that freedom and authenticity quickly led to a promotion because people stopped having to question their motives or uncover where they were coming from. Being real is not confusing. It’s energizing, inspiring, a great feeling, and the place from which you’ll find you do your best work and accomplish the greatest things. And yes, it’s liberating! .
I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. And hey, if you’re struggling with this whole idea of having that liberating feeling or being authentic, it might be time we partner to help you with that. Call me when it’s convenient (or when you just get tired of having to constantly fake it!) and in the meantime, have a great week, an even better Monday, and of course, stay contagious!