Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
~ Leo Tolstoy
WHAT DOES IT TAKE to be an exemplary leader? How do you become an exemplary leader? And, what is the key component of mastering the self to attain the highest level of leadership?
Reading about peak performance or attending leadership development courses do not always bring about the lasting results of becoming your ideal leader self. So, what does it take, what actions are required to reach that level of the best leader?
Are you aware of the choices you make and what the components are of making those decisions? You are a complex individual that has an inner dynamic that operates in your heart and mind that are at the helm of what you say and do. In order to be an effective leader, you need to take a journey into your inner world, a journey of self-discovery, so that you understand these other components affecting your decisions. Self-understanding is vital for your success to become a powerful leader.
Developing self-awareness can often feel like sailing into uncharted territory. Asking the question, “Who am I really” or “What is steering my decision” is a great start to exploring your pervasive mindset driven by your habits, thoughts, emotions, and decisions. Making a habit of listening to yourself and what others say about you is the beginning of self-discovery. You are then beginning to create a map to charter the depths of the Self.
Assumptions are often a driving component in decision making. The best example of a pervasive mindset and assumption at work is the story of Susan Boyle. When she took the stage to fulfill her dream to become a renowned singer, the camera scanned the faces of the audience reflecting negative judgments and assumptions about her and what she set out to accomplish. Some of us may have shared these feelings with the audience members. We do it all the time, snap judgments, and in this example, most of us were dead wrong.
Another area to explore in self-development is uncovering the blind spots and making them more visible. Blind spots are often the behaviors that others find offensive and negative while under your leadership. As a leader, you are often unaware of this behavior, or if it has been pointed out to you in the past, changing the behavior is difficult because you cannot see it when it is in motion. Becoming an exemplary leader requires the ability to be open to feedback on these blind spots and take action to make them more conscious. Often these behaviors are driven by fear which then brings out defenses that sabotage your true north leadership. But you must go deeper than feedback. Listening to your inner state of what is happening to you, what you are feeling in the moment is key to self-awareness. It is like tuning into your deepest self and ask “Am I becoming defensive, or am I judging or making assumptions about this individual?” Here is an opening into the inner state by asking these tougher questions of the self. Becoming aware of how your inner perceptions, beliefs, and mindsets get in the way of being the optimal leader starts your journey into the realm of mastering the Self.