Leadership isn’t about what role you currently hold, leadership is the energy you operate in.
Difficult relationships can provide us with some of our biggest stressors. At one time I had a particularly difficult relationship with a boss. Looking back I can see that my enthusiasm for working on things that I was passionate about could easily have been annoying, but at the time, it was a different story.
I would lean on the counsel of friends regularly, really just looking to offload and have them soothe my heart and give me sympathy for this terrible person I had in my life.
Then one day something clicked. I read a book called “The Art of Possibility” by Benjamin Zander and Rosamund Stone Zander, something about that book and the idea of assuming the best in others, made my look carefully at the relationships I was participating in. In the case of my boss, I wasn’t assuming the best when I interacted with them, I was assuming the worst.
I was holding my breath each time we interacted, which meant that I wasn’t allowing the space for anything to flow. I was leading the situation, but leading it to a negative outcome.
I decided to do the conversational version of breathing out. I relaxed, I started to sit in open body postures in our meetings, I smiled, I opened my heart and I stopped assuming the worst.
And it worked. Gradually that person began to exhale also, and over time, their energy matched my own.
What I had done was become the positive leader in that situation. By taking responsibility, I had lead us to embrace a different dynamic together. I realised then how much power I truly held in the way I allowed myself to experience others.
Leadership as an energy
In a recent coaching conversation, we got into the weeds of dissecting what it means to step into positive leadership energy.
We ended up landing on the idea that it is when you have managed to step into being vs performing.
What do we mean by that?
Most of us have spent and or spend a lot of our lives performing. Our early blueprint of life sets the foundation for the personalities we curate.
For a while I used to think my personality was me being truly authentic, it isn’t. It’s a series of ways of being I have concocted to stay safe in the world. If I can make you smile, I’m safe. If I can show you I see you and care, I’m safe.
Our personality is a performance.
But look, that performance is so etched in who we have become, I’m not suggesting that we are ever going to lose it.
What we can do though is dial up on our being-ness.
- Being is when we are on the journey to love ourselves.
- Being is when we start to appease less, and ask ourselves who we are seeking to serve in each moment.
- Being is when we know how to connect with the stiller parts of ourselves and do so.
- Being is when we start to celebrate our abilities.
- Being is when we start to live in alignment with our values.
- Being is when live our boundaries.
Being is when we take responsibility for our role in our lives and breathe out all the things we are holding onto.
Dialling up our being-ness takes work, and a commitment to do so. There may still be some ways that we find ourselves performing along the way to get there, and that’s okay too.
When I was learning to have boundaries, I felt I had to hold them very firm and rigid. I was performing my boundaries, because I hadn’t had them before so had to hold them very rigid. When I finally started to let go, and let myself be, my boundaries became softer, and more fluid again, but landed in a way where they still serve me first.
If you can just start with one tiny thing, to BE a little more this week, boundaries might be a great place to start. There might be small things that you can hold a little firmer on, until they find their natural way of being.
For each of the ways I talked about us being, they are the definition of leadership energy. If we can step into it and claim it, it’s the single best thing that we can do for the people around us, because by doing so, we invite them to do the same for themselves.