On Authentic Leadership – Three Foundational Elements for Knowing Yourself

Authentic leadership is a grand, worthy, and potentially overwhelming goal for any leader to attain. Based on more than 16 years as a leadership coach and consultant, I’m convinced that authentic leaders are the best leaders in any industry sector. For growing leaders, the goal of being an authentic leader is both energizing and inspiring. Yet all too often our human nature and the battle against our doubts and fears make it seem an almost impossible goal to attain.

Over the next set of articles, let’s explore the foundational elements of leadership authenticity. The first and most important element is to know yourself, and this idea encompasses three major points.

Clarify Your Priorities

You can pause right now and assess whether you’re living in alignment with your passion, purpose, and personality. At the time of my capture after my plane was shot down in Vietnam, I was just a typical single 24-year-old exuberant pilot who had largely ignored such weighty issues. Partly because of my solid spiritual upbringing, however, I believed deeply that my life was guided toward a divine purpose. I also was passionate about my work. Since the age of five, I had felt destined to fly and to be some type of warrior. My choice of a military career as a fighter pilot was also well aligned with several of my innate personality strengths: bold, take charge, adventurous, and challenge-driven.

After my capture, I definitely had doubts and fears about what the next hours and days might bring, but there were no second thoughts. I had known the risks, I had made my choices, and I was committed to my cause.

In short, I was authentically living “on purpose.” That clarity helped me to stand firm to my values of duty, honor, and country in the days, months, and years ahead.

Connect with Your Purpose and Passion

A sense of purpose fueled by passion is essential for true success. It’s fine to set your sights on any number of worthwhile goals, such as attaining a certain position of influence or making enough money for a comfortable retirement. But all of these achievements will be hollow if they don’t align with an overall purpose that holds up under life-and-death scrutiny.

Clarity of purpose sharpens focus, lifts confidence, and promotes fulfillment. Unfortunately, many people are not living on purpose.

Either they don’t know how to uncover their purpose, or they lack the motivation to search for it. No wonder they lack energy and zest!

Hugh Massie, one of my strategic business partners, didn’t stop searching until he discovered his purpose. Hugh was working for a world-renowned consulting company as a successful CPA in Singapore and Thailand when he felt drawn to educate people on finances. He moved back home to Sydney, Australia and started his own financial services business. It was successful, but within a few years he realized that he had a more specific calling: to teach people how their natural personality responses, such as fear and risk-taking, influence their financial decisions.

That quest led Hugh to the United States, where he became a partner in the work my previous company was doing in the field of human behavior. Shortly thereafter, he moved to Atlanta and launched DNA Behavior International, which is now recognized as a pioneer in the field of human behavior and more specifically behavioral finance. Although Hugh is intelligent and diligent, his success in great part is due to his relentless focus on gaining clarity about his purpose.

Capitalize on Your Personality Strengths

When I first began conducting leadership training in corporations, a young man came to me at the break and asked somewhat sheepishly, “What are the best personality traits for leadership?” Intuitively, I suspected what he really wanted to know was, “Do I have the right traits to be a leader?” That question comes up in some fashion almost everywhere I go, regardless of the age of the group or the size of the organization. Recently it emerged in a training session with executives and senior leaders of a Fortune 500 company.

To illustrate different styles of leadership, I had asked this large audience to physically group themselves in the four corners of the room according to their strongest personality trait. When one participant tried to join the “highly dominant” group, he was good naturedly rejected by the other members. Somewhat disappointed, this man then joined a different group that better matched his key trait. In our debriefing after the exercise, he commented, “It’s true that I don’t fit with that ‘dominant’ group, but I’ve always wanted to be like them.”

“Your honesty and vulnerability are admirable,” I told him, “and it’s not wrong for you to adapt your behaviors from time to time to be more effective in specific situations. But it is a mistake to deny your natural strengths and try to reinvent yourself to be like others. Great leaders come in a wide variety of styles and traits. The best traits for you are your innate traits, the ones you already have. You will be the best leader when you are authentic. So, be yourself. The more you try to imitate others and ‘pose’ as someone you are not, the more difficulties you will have.”

After that experience, I’m confident he became a more authentic and effective leader.

Critical moments can be catalysts for constructive change, but I urge you not to wait for a life-and-death situation or another type of crisis before you begin to think about who you are and where you’re going. Take the time now to ensure that your personal and career choices are aligned with your purpose, passion, and personality. Living authentically enables you to wholeheartedly pursue your goals. Please share your comments in this forum.

**********

Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Lee Ellis

Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC & FreedomStar Media.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Twitter

His latest book is called Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.

Image Sources: jivesystems.com

On Leadership and the Political Season: How All Leaders Can Discern Deceit and Restore Truth

Political Lies

Having a competitive spirit is usually a positive attribute in our culture. Whether in work, life, or play, we’re hard-wired to face competition with power, tenacity, and the goal of winning.

It’s the American way. And for many, winning has become the supreme, all-important goal!

On Leadership and Lies

As we approach mid-term elections in the United States in the height of this season’s political frenzy, many candidates and their parties are desperate to win at all costs, with millions of dollars spent to influence voters. For example, spending for TV ads in several state governors races this year are in the range of $15-30 million dollars.

Beyond the vast resources being spent though, the greater concern is the blatant deceit that has become a tolerated part of election season; if you consistently vilify and defame your opponent and play dirty politics, you have a good chance of winning regardless of your own past performance or political record.

Throughout the election season, we’ll be constantly bombarded with out-of-control half-truths (also called “spin”) and outright lies about opponents, as well as promises that will never be kept.

As voters we have to be more shrewd and discerning to find truth and honor in political candidates.

Deception in the Camps

As a Vietnam POW under communist rule for over five years, I heard lies and half-truths three times a day as the speaker box in my cell spewed forth their propaganda. Consequently, my greatest source of anger and concern since repatriation has come from my aversion to lies and duplicity, especially when someone is trying to get me to believe something that is clearly not true or so far out of context that it has no relevance.

Intentional misrepresentations of facts or reckless attacks on another person’s character are anathema to a free society, and they echo the communist tactics we experienced in the camps many years ago.

Why do we tolerate such dishonorable behavior? Regardless of one’s political ideology, what is the real benefit of defending and supporting spin artists whose actions and words consistently show them to be untrustworthy? Is our Republic on a slippery slope where it’s accepted that the end justifies the means?

Unifying the Culture Through Truth

Here’s a truth that we must never forget: Lies chip away at our freedom as individuals and as a nation, and truth is the cornerstone for liberty, justice and a free society. We should make electing honorable leaders our highest priority.

The mission, vision, and values of the 4th Allied POW wing in the Hanoi Hilton were eventually combined into three words, “Return with Honor.” Our actions were governed by the Military Code of Conduct, a list of six statements developed after the Korean War to guide prisoners of war. Even though we had ideological differences on some issues, this code clarified our commitments, held us accountable to each other, and inspired an amazing bond that held us together in unity. It was our highest priority as we fought to do our duty and serve honorably under the grimmest of circumstances.

You may have sensed that truth has been under attack in our society for a long time. With our current communication technologies, the truth is twisted and spun so fast and so cleverly that it would take a full-time team of researchers to sort out the real truth in a single political contest.

Seven Codes of Honor

Clearly we need a unified code of ethical behavior—a Code of Honor to guide and draw us together into truthful dialog and debate.

Here’s a step in that direction: seven principles to renew our commitment and unify us as honorable people and leaders -

  1. Tell the truth even when it’s difficult. Avoid duplicity and deceitful behavior.
  2. Treat others with dignity and respect. Take the lead, and operate by the Golden Rule.
  3. Keep your word and your commitments. Ask for relief sooner than later if necessary.
  4. Be ethical. Operate within the laws of the land, the guidelines of your profession, and the values that you proclaim.
  5. Act with responsibility, do your duty, and be accountable. Own your mistakes, and work to make things better in the future.
  6. Be courageous. Lean into the pain of your fears to do what you know is right even when it feels unnatural or uncomfortable.
  7. Stay attuned to your spiritual core, your conscience, and your deepest intuitions. Listen for wisdom about honor, ethics, and courage.

What do you think would happen to our society if we all did our best to follow these seven short principles of honor? Don’t underestimate the power of a few honorable people to make a significant difference in our culture. Make a commitment to do your part as leaders in affecting positive change, and expect results from your efforts. Would you join me in making that commitment?

Get a free copy of this Code of Honor.  

**********

Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Lee Ellis

Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC & FreedomStar Media.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Twitter

His latest book is called Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.

Image Sources: pinimg.com

On Leadership and Succession Planning – Avoiding Costly Mistakes

Succession Planning

Recently, my wife Mary and I discussed the need to review and update our will, which is now about fifteen years old. The next day over coffee a friend asked me if I had a will. Later that day in a random conversation, a stranger mentioned that he knew an estate attorney in my neighborhood. The next day I heard on the radio that August was national “get a will” month.

I got the message! After dragging our feet for several years, we have an appointment this week to begin the process.

Planning For Success

As you know, the topic of succession planning is more than keeping a personal will up to date. Did you ever notice how hard it is for leaders to plan for the time when you or one of your team members leaves the organization? The military does this well by consistently developing officers and enlisted to move up to the next level.

When having the right leader in place is a matter of life and death, the goal is succession at every level without missing a beat.

In the POW camps of Vietnam, having clarity about who assumed command was a huge plus for our success and morale. Not only did we have amazingly well prepared leaders, we had an automatic succession plan—the next senior person became the leader. If you had two people of the same rank, then the one with the earliest promotion date was the leader.

“Had the military not intentionally trained each officer, the outcome of our POW experience could have been very different—increased confusion, mixed messages, lack of unity, and greater loss of life.”

The Value of Succession Planning in the Workplace

If you believe in the mission of your work and want it to continue, you must proactively plan for turnover and succession at all levels –

  • Top Leaders. Succession planning at the highest level is about finding leaders that can protect the vision and move it forward. A bad hire is always costly, and costs at the executive level are tangible and intangible whether it’s a loss of revenue, momentum, or direction needed to stay competitive in a rapidly changing environment.
  • Mid-level Managers. Pro-active companies have a training pipeline for managers—especially those deemed to be high potentials.
  • Front Line Supervisors. Leadership always makes a difference, regardless of the level. These leaders are most involved in getting the job done (results) and taking care of people (relationships).

With good succession planning in place, you’re much better prepared to promote internally, which has many advantages. You’re hiring a known entity and already understand their talents, character, courage, and commitment. Remember—the best insight for hiring is the old saw “has done–will do.” Other advantages include –

  • Saving on outside recruiting costs. The average cost of finding and hiring someone from outside the company is 1.7 times more than an internal hire ($8,676 vs. $15,008) reports the Saratoga Institute.
  • Better morale and retention. It shows you value your people inside the organization.
  • Quicker on-boarding and ramp up. Internal hires know the culture and processes of the organization.
  • Great chances of long-term success. Statistically, experts say that 40-60 percent of external hires aren’t successful compared with only 25 percent for internal hires.

“Developing your own people also provides the opportunity to add knowledge and skills as well as reinforcing your organizational culture, values and policies.”

Looking Outside, and A Final Note

Even with the best internal succession plans and programs, sometimes it’s necessary to look outside. Typical situations that might favor hiring outside would include a –

  • Lack of qualified and experienced candidates.
  • Need for new energy and innovation in a new project/direction.
  • Need for a turnaround person in an area that’s stalled out or dysfunctional.

Regardless of your succession planning process, one thing is clear—it begins with the hiring process. Getting the right people on the bus and in the right seats will be critical to success (Jim Collins), and we should begin with the end in mind (Stephen Covey).

So what are you doing about succession planning? And by the way, when was the last time you updated your will? Both are too important to neglect. Think about it and share your thoughts and experiences.

**********

Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Lee Ellis

Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC & FreedomStar Media.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Twitter

His latest book is called Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.

 Image Resources: piercecfo.com

On Leadership and Assessing Leadership Potential in Yourself and Others

Lee Ellis

Carla, a Senior Vice-President of a Fortune 200 company, has the challenge of evaluating the natural leadership potential of several team members. She had worked with all of them for some time, but she’s unsure about the best criteria to match the needed skills for the job with the potential candidates.

Not only does she want the person in the right role, but she needs someone that can produce results, increase productivity, and manage a cohesive team.

Knowing that 62% of executive decisions are made based solely on gut feelings, she wants to make a better hiring decision by obtaining more concrete data about each candidate.

Where Does She Start?

With over 30 years of research and experience in the fields of human behavior and performance, I believe that it’s unequivocally true that every person is unique and that all leaders (and the people they manage) have different talents. Here are some other confirmations:

  • The best leaders have a mix of natural and learned behaviors.
  • You can confirm that an individual belongs in a specific personality style, but the style categorization should not be used to put people in a “box”.
  • There are no good or bad personality styles to determine leadership ability—just different. Great leaders come from all styles.

So, it’s important to be objective and realize that anyone can become a successful leader.

Results vs. Relationships Evaluated

After evaluating that the base character and integrity of each candidate matches the values of the company, the next step is evaluating their results vs. relationships balance.

We’ve all been there and worked for the leader that got results but had no trusted relationships on their team. They were simply a machine that met the desired goals at any cost. On the flip side, there were the “fun leaders” that wasted hours every day talking and socializing with the team and then scrambled at the last minute to get a few things accomplished. They’re fun to be around, but results and progress ultimately fall short on a regular basis.

Statistically, 40% of leaders are more results (mission) oriented, and 40% are more relationships (people) oriented. The most effective leaders have balanced skills in both results and relationships.

For example, a successful leader must be tough or soft as the situation dictates.

Even though some leaders are naturally either tough or soft, that’s where our learned behaviors come into play to be truly successful.

Communication Style Analyzed

Another key area to evaluate is communication style when interacting with others. Think of the people on your own team or department and how different they are.

While the goal is treat everyone fairly, a successful leader understands the unique differences in people and communicates with them differently.

Some people will need more interaction with their manager than others in order to do a good job, while others are more self-managing. Some people work best when they can more on tasks, while others will work better when their work involves more frequent interaction with others.

The communication needs with these team members are different, too.

Successful leaders also need the courage do to the hard things such as confronting poor performance and bad behavior. It also takes courage for some leaders to do the soft things such as encouraging and supporting their people. Healthy accountability is critical to maintain standards and values, and that’s easier for some leaders to do than others.

All of these examples hinge on the leader’s natural and/or learned ability to communicate in different ways with different people.

The Next Step in Assessing Leaders

While other natural competencies such as problem-solving skills, decision-making skills, and support needed should also be considered, validating the key skills above is a wise endeavor.

To help with Carla’s hiring process, asking the right questions and using an assessment tool for each candidate will give her greater chances for success as she builds her team. With this new found data, she can choose a leader that has the character, courage, and the talent balance to propel the company forward and support a culture of great leadership.

**********

Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Lee Ellis

Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC & FreedomStar Media.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Twitter

His latest book is called Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.

Image Sources: Lee Ellis

On Leadership, Lying and Breaking The Honor Code

When a large, trusted and well-established institution gets caught in a public lie, the entire code of honor is at risk of failure. Leading like this is poisonous to the entire entity and everything for which it stands. 

When honor is broken, what comes next?

How Emory University Failed Its Own Honor Code

The revelation (see related article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution) by leaders at Emory University that a former Dean of Admissions had been supplying false data (lying) when reporting the SAT scores and Class Ranking of  incoming students has been a great disappointment to the city of Atlanta, and a revelation throughout the country.

If high-level leaders at a university renown for quality education and ethical values are violating the very basic rule of honor–tell the truth–then what must be going on elsewhere?

In fact, this is not the first revelation of such false reporting by a university trying to gain an edge in competing for annual rankings in sources like US News & World Report.

As in other professions, it appears that for some leaders, any means can be justified when the end goal has implications of gaining power, money, and influence or protecting their prestige or position.

Widespread Leadership Issue

We have become accustomed to seeing dishonorable leaders in politics–after all, they thrive on publicity and when they get in trouble, their high profile role makes them magnets for media attention.

But, when we learn that administrators from a highly regarded university are playing just as dirty as many back room politicians or businesspeople, we must conclude that the problem is deep and wide, transcending every profession at every level.

We should not be surprised; after all, we are all cut from the same cloth—we are fallible and flawed human beings.

—————————————————————

I love L2L because I can review the topic first thing in the morning via email, and make a decision if I want to read the full article. I usually can make that decision within the first few lines. I really appreciate this format in our busy, fast-paced world.

What’s Your Opinion of L2L? Please take our quick Reader’s Survey 2014!

Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here.

—————————————————————

Living By Your Words

The Emory University honor code, as posted online, has as its very first point, “…the University community assumes high standards of courtesy, integrity and responsibility in all of its members.”  But we make a great mistake when we assume integrity, even our own.  Events such as this provide a reminder that we must know ourselves and regularly check our own moral compass.

“Trying to take the easy way based on fear is taking out good men and women at a rapid pace.  We all suffer each time one falls. We tend to become more cynical, and at the same time our cultural standards of right and wrong drop another notch.”

Every day we face decisions that have honor implications and we must regularly re-examine our commitments and behaviors.  Additionally, we need to regularly seek counsel from close comrades who have very high standards who will give us counsel on our questionable decisions.

The bottom line is that we can’t assume that we (or others) are above dishonorable behavior.

We are most at risk when we become afraid about what could happen. Trying to take the easy way based on fear is taking out good men and women at a rapid pace.  We all suffer each time one falls. We tend to become more cynical, and at the same time our cultural standards of right and wrong drop another notch.

Going Back to Our Foundation as Leaders

The foundation for living and leading with honor is courage.  Every day we will be faced with fears and temptations to take the easy way out.  Only with a commitment to a code of honor will we have the courage to choose to do the right thing, because the right thing is usually the hard way.

Remember, all discipline in the moment seems difficult, but in the end brings peace and true success.

Do you assume your integrity?  What are you doing to make this assumption a reality in your life?  Do you have someone with whom you discuss difficult decisions, someone who can give counsel based on high standards and an objective viewpoint?

I hope you will join in this discussion and share your experiences.  Do you agree that it’s dangerous to assume your integrity?  How do you manage this key area of your life?

**********

Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Lee Ellis


Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC & FreedomStar Media.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Twitter

His latest book is called Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.

Image Sources: media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com

On Leadership and Emotional Intelligence

Low EQ Dunce

4 Eye-Openers Leaders Must Know in Evaluating Emotional Intelligence

The commercials on television today talk endlessly about treatments for “low this” and “low that,” but unfortunately, we don’t hear much about low Emotional Intelligence (EQ).

Here are some symptoms:

  • You know that you are brilliant, yet you find yourself reacting with impatience and anger with others who just don’t get it.
  • You have noticed that others don’t seem to get your humor, or your jokes, or don’t seem so interested in your great stories.
  • Maybe your feedback to a teammate failed to come across the way you had intended.

Low EQ

If as a leader at work, at home or in your community you have any of these symptoms, you’re possibly suffering from low Emotional Intelligence.

For most people, EQ limits a person’s career and influence more than IQ. So what are we talking about here? What indicates good emotional intelligence? It’s really about being aware of and responding effectively to emotions—our own and those of others.

In many ways, good EQ is similar to the common courtesies that were emphasized more in previous generations. After all, the old saw about “counting to ten” when we felt anger was about as scientific as you can get.

We now know that the emotional part of the brain (the Amygdala – /əˈmigdələ/) reacts four times faster than our cognitive quarterback in the pre-frontal cortex. In simpler terms, learning to slow down our response to emotional situations can keep us out of trouble.

Using Your Brain

The Amygdala is part of the limbic system and is the source of our natural protective response for flight or fight. For many who train regularly for combat – military, law enforcement, athletes—tapping into this source of high energy for a crisis response helps performance.

But away from the job, that same response can get you in trouble—hence the term “Amygdala Hijack.” But to some degree, all of us use and misuse this natural instinct to fight or flee—to dominate or withdraw.

So, the key to good emotional intelligence is awareness. Until we become aware of our emotions and predict where they will take us, we’re clueless as to how to manage them; and that’s what we really want to do. Likewise, an awareness of the emotions of others helps us manage our response to facilitate the most effective interaction.

Two Tests and Four Steps

Like the nourishment of vitamins in our bodies, let’s digest the following four steps of emotional intelligence to get healthier as a leader –

1. Recognize your own emotions.

Awareness usually requires practice. For example, you are in a meeting and Bob says something that you know is absolutely wrong.

“How could anyone be that stupid,” you think.

Your first instinct is to call him out and show him how wrong he is. But you’ve been down that road before and know that will only embarrass Bob and ultimately make you look small. Besides, you may not even know all the facts that are behind his opinion.

Fortunately, you recognize that you’re angry and you’ve learned to coach yourself to hold back on your response. You slow it down and engage your cognitive quarterback to come up with a plan B.

2. Manage your emotions.

You’re a quick thinker and now your mind is running through options for an effective way of responding. Your goal is to respond with honor and respect because that’s one of your personal values. You remind yourself that Bob is a bright guy, too. Also, you’ve heard from your leadership coach that listening is a really good tool.

One option you remember that might work is to say something like, “Gee Bob, I had not thought of it like that before. Can you explain the logic of how that would work?”

Of course, tone of voice and body language are very important to pulling this off because they are two of your strongest communicators of emotions. Once Bob gives his explanation, more than likely you will see that he’s not stupid at all—just operating with a different perspective. But in any case, you’ve managed your emotions and maintained your decorum—signs of a good EQ.

3. Recognize the emotions of others.

On the way back from the conference room, you run into Jane, one of your peers, who seems a bit down and overwhelmed. You’re depending on her to deliver the data that you need for the next step of your project and the deadline is tomorrow.

Your immediate fear is that it’s not going to happen. Now that you’ve been working to raise your EQ, you mentally push back on your fear and consider what your teammate is up against and how her confidence and energy are sagging.

It doesn’t take an EQ genius to realize that putting a guilt trip on her is probably not a good idea, but what can you do?

4. Respond appropriately/effectively to the emotions of others.

Because you’re not fear-motivated, you focus on encouraging Jane. After all, she does good work and what she needs right now is an emotional boost. So you choose to show her some empathy and encouragement, telling her that you understand things are difficult right now and asking if there are ways that you and your team can help.

You also offer to listen to her challenges and brainstorm with her on solutions. (By the way, this is one of the most helpful things you can do for an extrovert; they unusually need to talk to think effectively.) You close out by reminding her that she is a great teammate and that you have confidence in her judgment.

The Silent Strength of EQ

Having good EQ may sound somewhat soft, but it’s actually very powerful because it’s about being the most effective we can be. It begins with awareness—we can’t manage what we don’t recognize—and then it’s about managing our own emotions and our response to others.

In the simplest terms, it’s about reading the situation and then acting in the most effective manner. It does get easier with practice, and it makes you the kind of leader that others want to follow. Try it and see for yourself.

“Good leaders know who they are—their strengths, weaknesses, passions, talents, and values. And, developing leaders always starts with self-awareness.” – Lee Ellis

**********

Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadershipsubscribe today here!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders™

——————–
Lee Ellis

Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC & FreedomStar Media.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Twitter

His latest book is called Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.

Image Sources: venturebeat.files.wordpress.com

Freeing the Captives—How to Confront Your Personal Leadership Barriers (Part 1)

Freeing The Caged Bird

The release of Bowe Bergdahl has been a hot item in the news recently. And I’ve had several interviews on regional and national news media about what it’s like to come home after being a POW for five and a half years.

Our capture situation in Vietnam was quite different and my time in solitary confinement was short, so I’ve focused more on what it was like to return after years of poor diet, little news, periodic abuse, and isolation from family and society.

I’m glad Bowe Bergdahl is back home, and I know his family is relieved. Time will tell what the military sorts out about his capture and military service, but the discussion about him, as well as the annual celebration of our nation’s independence, has reminded me of why I’m so passionate about helping free the captives in my consulting, writing, and speaking.

What’s Holding You Back?

I’m enthusiastically focused on helping people find the freedom and courage to grow by breaking away from the shackles that are holding them back.

My observation and experience over the last forty years training hundreds of military and business leaders is that we all have mindsets, habits, and behaviors that inhibit our growth as individuals and leaders.

“We all need more freedom from these barriers, and many of these shackles come from our feelings of insecurity.”

Getting In the Way

Consider the two responses below that cause us to get in our own way, restrict us from achieving our potential, and yield major external repercussions.

1) False pride maximizes self and minimizes others.

This unhealthy response to our insecurity is a mindset of superiority that manifests as an ego-protecting pose typically based in domination, control, and perfectionism rather than authentic humility.

False pride leads to self-centeredness and makes it difficult to acknowledge the good ideas and achievements of others.

Leaders imprisoned by their ego often feel threatened by those who don’t agree with them, and soon there’s a graveyard nearby where they bury unwelcome messengers whose words of truth shine light on their dark side.

2) False humility minimizes self and maximizes others.

Some people respond to their insecurities by going in the opposite direction—living in a negative self-image in one or more areas. Their negative personal perception produces a mindset that has boxed them inside limits that are more akin to self-imposed incarceration.

Breaking Free

You may be thinking, “I can see this in others and maybe a little in myself, but it sounds pretty deep and psychological. How can we free ourselves and others from these negative patterns?”

“Professional help will be needed for some situations, but much can be done by remembering a single principle—the truth can set you free. The problem here is that a lie is operating rather than the truth.”

Identifying the Lie  

In the 2011 movie, The Help, actress Viola Davis’ character lovingly reminds Mae Mobley, a little two-year old, about her self-worth. Take a moment and watch this…

If you think about it, you’ll see that both of the career/life inhibiting responses above are undergirded by a lie about our self-worth. It’s true that we’re all flawed, but we have great value, too. It requires a healthy balance to live with these two paradoxical statements and resist living the lie of low self-worth.

“Notice that both the responses above are grounded in fear—the emotion that exercises powerful control over our hearts and minds.”

Gaining Freedom for Yourself and Others

Knowing and believing the truth about ourselves is the antidote to lies and opens the pathway to freedom. Here are two ways to embrace the truth –

1) Welcome courageous confrontation.

Remember that all development begins with self-awareness. Being honest with ourselves can be difficult because denial and rationalization are often normal protective strategies for a pose.

Do you have the courage to ask someone for honest feedback—either one-on-one or by having a coach or consultant do a 360 assessment on your leadership behaviors?

Be willing to confront yourself and break free from the lies holding you back. Likewise, it can be very rewarding to be a warrior for freedom for others. Confront the next generation of leaders to help them assess where they need to break free too.

2) Give and accept courageous support and affirmation.

Those locked in false humility need truth of their value and potential.As their leader, peer, or friend, we can be the bearers of that good news.

Years ago, I remember being affirmed by two friends about my value and worth. Initially I resisted and tried to refute their comments, but their sincerity and their personal loyalty convinced me that my perspective was a lie.

They were revealing truth that I needed in order to move to the next level in my leadership. It was powerful and liberating to have that courageous support and affirmation.

Choosing Freedom

In this season of celebrating freedom and independence, the key message here is that honorable leaders acquire the courage to confront and be confronted and the courage to support and affirm. Both approaches are needed to bring the truth that can set ourselves and others free to grow to the next level of performance.

Do you have the courage and humility to find out the truth about your leadership and then encourage others in their leadership? Your growth has much larger implications than you can imagine. In part 2 of this article we’ll explore the broad societal possibilities when we have a nation full of confident, valuable leaders.

**********

Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Lee Ellis

Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC & FreedomStar Media.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Twitter

His latest book is called Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.

Image Sources:media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 43,129 other followers

%d bloggers like this: