Tag Archives: Change

Leadership Perspective

“What resides within finds its way out.” MGF

Our experiences – all of them—impact our hearts in profound ways. Whether dancing joys or weighty despair, each uniquely writes a storyline within us that can become the basis for our view of life. Here’s the thing…if the storyline written is the same or even somewhat similar across many experiences, we at some point can take it on as personal truth even when not accurate. Was the experience real? Yes. Is the truth from it accurate? Not necessarily. A brief story may help.

Grace started her new job with cautious excitement. Cautious because for most of her young life of 23 years, those closest to her spoke more of her mistakes and how big they were, more than encouraging her over her innate and unique gifts and strengths. In her heart, she believed that if her family and friends felt this way about her life, what would strangers at a new job feel? She expected more of the same and likely without any filter. So, she began her role waiting for the judgement to come, and even more so from leaders. However, to her bewildering surprise, her supervisor Jenna was different. From the first interaction, Jenna was endearing and encouraging, leaving Grace feeling seen and heard with great value. Over time, her experience at work began challenging the truth she had arrived with, namely, that her life was the sum total of her failures. Instead, she was beginning to believe that her real self was much more beautiful and wonderful, and that others thought so too. Jenna’s impact on Grace was profound all because a leader saw her for who she truly was and then acted on it with her words and actions. Jenna’s perspective became the cause of how she led Grace.

As leaders, we all have these kinds of perspectives which become the basis of our actions. We can say all we want, but the true revealer of what perspectives we hold, especially about our leadership role and intent, always comes out in how we use our role with those we lead. Stripped down to the core, leadership is about leading, and leading is about others. We don’t lead projects. We don’t lead goals. We certainly don’t lead outcomes. We lead people.

The question and answer are ours, every day, with every circumstance and with every person we encounter. What perspective do we want to define ourselves? It begins with first understanding our present perspective. To discover it absolutely requires honest assessment beyond just our own. Asking others frank questions about their experiences with us remains crucial. Use all of it, especially that which reflects failures and mistakes.

Once we have some honest clarity of our present perspective, where do we want to go from here? Remember, if we want to change, we must first believe something different and then do something different. Action without a heart change will be short-lived. We live from our internal world that we value.

As a leader, we can focus our energy, attention and power on drawing out the real truth of others despite their experiences. That’s the honor we have before us. But to do that and do it consistently means that we understand our own value and worth of how we matter. Our innate worth and value is more real than all the experiences we have combined. Let’s have that perspective as leaders and help each other believe that as we work together and serve each other.

Honest Character Assessment

Personal character, especially as a leader, will always define the kind of impact we have on those we lead. Sound emphatic? Yes. Why? Our personal skills and abilities, the stuff that gets work done, while important, only becomes positive, engaging, and desired when we relate to others with character that builds, supports, encourages, and honors. Put another way, when we put anything else above those we work with – profits, results, success – we leave a deposit in their hearts of mistrust, dishonor, and a devaluing of their own worth. Even worse, when our words and actions don’t connect, the hypocrisy is devastating to relational truth, trust, and connection.

Let’s make this real. Which would you want in your life? A leader who can get things done despite their non-valuing treatment of you and others; or, one who makes priority and leads (mostly by their action) with their ability to help you believe you are valued and important? Asking yourself how you want to be led is insightful, and an important step towards defining yourself as a leader.

So, which kind of leader have you been to present? To answer honestly takes truth principles that can go past our own personal story we rehearse in our heads about ourselves and point to what’s real. Most, if not all of us, tend to carefully craft personal stories of who we are based more on our intentions than our actions and behaviors those around us experience in real time. If we do this over and over, no wonder why we are not trusted or believed. In contrast, our desire and action to grow in honest assessment of ourselves becomes a key “truth teller” of the kind of impact we have as leaders. Here is one of these principles to consider…

How you relate to others on your worst day reflects a truer version of your real character than that on your best day.  MGF

Take a moment to reflect on past “worst/bad days”, and what came out of you in behavior to others around you. Add to your personal assessment what have others shared with you about what they experienced on these same days. Together, the consistent details now support a more accurate storyline of your character for those days. Now that you have a more accurate reality, you now have a choice in moving forward…

  • Revise the story line to justify your behavior (denial);
  • Ignore the story line and stay on the same relational trajectory with yourself and others (denial/apathy), or
  • Embrace what you discover as a truth to process towards change (accountability/ownership).  

Personal character assessment takes detailed honesty not only with ourselves personally, but also a willingness to embrace what others have experienced from us. All circumstances, especially those we would call our “worst days”, can be catalysts for celebration (when we treat others well) AND growth (when we don’t). To value yourself means to live authentically valuing others in both your internal and external lives, no matter the circumstances, and to challenge ourselves to change when we don’t. Let’s encourage each other as valued leaders wanting to grow with more honest character assessment and change.

Unlocking Creative Vision

Leading others impacts all of us, whether we are leading or being led. In general, all leadership can be defined in one of two ways: Leadership through influence that inspires (serving others), or Leadership through positional authority.

What does each look like in real life? The first values freedom for others to become their best selves with opportunity, while the second uses power to motivate action based on stated consequences. Yes, both gets results. Beyond this, though, how are those under either leadership model connected to you as a leader? Put another way, what is the result of your leadership upon their heart? Your “leadership lifestyle”, or how you lead on a regular and consistent manner (i.e. actions arise from internal values) defines this relational truth. As such, creativity within those you lead becomes tied to this result.

The role of one’s heart and motivation, I believe, remains greater than most will consider in their personal leadership lifestyle. How so? Consider a key component for any organization/company — VISION. How one leads dramatically impacts the lens by which vision is seen, and subsequently, carried out.

Take a moment to consider the following quotes and the kind of “vision” that arises:

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said: FASTER HORSES.” — Henry Ford

“What you yearn for will be what drives you to explore.” — Mark Francis

Our personal sphere of leadership will be dramatically impacted by our personal leadership lifestyle, especially towards how we help unlock creativity in those we lead. Creativity needs freedom to thrive, as well as opportunities to explore. As leaders, are we creating that environment? Without, vision will diminish and become nothing more than a sign on the wall.

Here are few ideas/thoughts that could serve as a beginning point in your own self-reflection:

> If you ask for input from your team, give value to it (beyond just a “Thank You”) – even using a portion of it building increasing trust that vision is a collaborative effort.

> When a process is not being successful, seek first to find out what it is not being self-corrected by those involved – Training gap, relational disconnection, loss of confidence, etc.

> Consistently communicate and demonstrate room for “failing forward” – using failure to drive creativity, not diminish it.

> Appeal consistently to one’s heart and importance over the rule of command/process – if your team feels they are present only for your personal success, you will lose their creativity and their heart for you.

> Ask open-ended questions for discovery – highlight the unknown and its value for driving exploring.

In our fast-paced world and ever-changing circumstances, our ability as leaders to value and support personal creativity in our teams will many times make the difference between short or long-term success.

Growing Through Challenges

Ask yourself this question – When I’m faced with a challenge, either with myself, others or circumstances, what is my initial reaction?

  • Do I judge it as a weakness or failure with drama?


  • Do I focus on it being an opportunity for changing something towards greater growth and success? 

We likely all have responded in both ways. The key question lies in the pattern of our gut-level reaction. Our ability to walk in truthful self-awareness of our reactions will in fact dictate what we emphasize and focus on during these moments. Excellence in all forms arises from seeing challenges as stepping stones to something greater.

Embracing and strengthening a “growth” perspective is largely a daily choice. As such, what we practice becomes our “nature”. Impactful leaders cultivate a growth-oriented perspective which is vital to sustainable success.

Need some practice tips? Here are a few to help – I’m sure you will think of others:

  • Calibrate your Emotions – Our feelings are part of us yet, cannot lead us. They can be a window into our hearts and the beliefs we hold about what is around us. A strong reaction can be an important tip off of something deeper to be explored personally. However, when dealing with yourself, others or even circumstances, keep them in check.
  • Embrace Changes – Life ceases to be such without change. From the moment we were conceived, life reflects an on-going expression of change. This includes our internal lives of our heart, mind and will. The one constant we experience is that life will not be constant. We can make change a part of our decisions (causing growth) or contend against it and stay stuck.
  • Value the Long-term – While we all experience life “in the moment”, a long-term vision helps us hold our moments with the weight they deserve. Even in moments of great impact, whether joy-filled or intensely painful, the capacity we all have to weave these into a larger life story depends on how we hold them. We can get stuck in moments and define all of our life by them. In contrast, we can make them but a part of other moments towards something greater or even different.
  • Connect with your personal community – Our personal lives can only be fully experienced in connection with others. Isolated, personal reflection is certainly key to personal awareness and growth. However, the encouragements and support of those around us fill in and fill out what we understand of “ourselves”. If we are left to only ourselves, we become self-absorbed and self-centered humans who will disesteem others for the sake of me, myself and I. Focusing only on what others think of me devalues the reality of my uniqueness through personal awareness. Both are key for us to understand ourselves and how others relate to us. The feedback from both becomes an important, and needful opportunity for growth and change.

None of us are exempt from challenges. How we respond to them determines what kind of opportunity we embrace. As leaders, the stakes are even higher. The challenges we face and our ability to create growth from them defines both our role and effect on those we serve. Excellence arises as we recognize the best that can come from the challenges we encounter. Let’s make growth our choice!

Negative Feedback as a Growth Gift?

Responses, or personal feedback, to our attitudes and actions come daily to all of us. While we all enjoy the positive ones, we can be less welcoming of those that come with disappointment, pain, questions or even anger. However, if we value personal growth at any level, cultivating our skills to find a “growth nugget” from any feedback encounter, regardless of how it comes or from whom, enhances our capacity for positive and helpful change. The ability to do this consistently means practicing the art of discoveryseparation and embracement for feedback responses, even the hard ones. I know what you may be thinking — do all responses have meaningful nuggets I can grow from? I would suggest most do, depending on how we handle the feedback. Keep reading to see what I mean.

Initially, we must first believe in the presence of and then search for a specific meaning in the core content of a response. What attitudes or actions in me are they reacting to and why? Connecting that back to our own role in the matter reflects discovery. Once identified, you now have a personal “growth” purpose for the response beyond how it was offered. What can I change? How can I do it different? These and other key questions can serve you with specifics towards improvement or change.

Now realizing a discovered meaning, separating this meaning from the way a response comes becomes important. It’s easy to dismiss feedback based on accompanying emotions, how its offered, or even who it comes from. Easy, but perhaps wasteful. How so? A response offered to inflict some negative impact on you does so if you judge it solely on this intent. However, if you find meaning despite this intent, rather than being diminished by the negative, you are rather enhanced by a greater opportunity to grow and change. In essence, you transform a negative intent to a positive outcome. Now comes the final action – Embrace.

Having a capacity to embrace a “growth nugget” in whatever form it comes creates a perspective within you to see and experience life differently. Certainly pain, disfunction, and brokenness surround all of us in many forms. But, we decide their defining impact upon our own hearts, minds and attitudes every day. Choosing to embrace a new way of seeing myself through these discovered nuggets for growth puts the emphasis on my personal change rather than the response itself. I then can emerge strengthened, encouraged and transformed for the better. And maybe, just maybe, I also can come to see others for the treasure they possess despite their present condition. Would we not want the same consideration?

Discoveringseparating and then embracing a deeper personal truth in feedback is a choosing to see myself through the eyes of others so that I can increase my self-awareness and make changes in my life AND for the benefit of others. Applying this skill values my personal growth as well as contributes to positively impacting the “others” in my life, friend or foe. What a gift I can give myself and to others!  Is that a personal legacy you want to build? If so, value feedback for what it can be – a gift!

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