It’s a movement, not a solitary adventure.

First, what the hell does that even mean?

To the leader, at least, in the way that I have tried to reflect in my own life, leading has nothing to do with me. But it has everything to do with the person I am working with, be it a new author, a new client, or just the way I conduct myself in my personal life. Let me put this out there: there is no “i” in “leader. It’s a little spin on an old saying, but nonetheless true.

An effective leader wants their team, of which they are a member of themselves, to turn to them for the continual feeding of validation and confirmation of their strengths and results of their creation.

I have been on teams where so-called leaders felt their calling was to insult, belittle, box up and control their team and I have been on teams which were solid and reassuring, which were allowed to improve and compound on their own strengths, the hallmark of a true leader. In the latter scenario, without the fear element firmly in place and lashing down the ideas of the team, with the distinct message that there were no threats to success on this lucky team, the ability to annihilate goals was unmistakable. People were lifted up, were encouraged to wander outside their comfort zone, and even zany whims were received with enthusiasm. Not so, in the former case, where everyone was working scared, more prone to flub up and where the natural action to take was guarding your territory lest your slim shot at productivity be ripped away.

From those experiences I have become a burgeoning thought leader, instilled with the purpose of continual uplifting, of helping clients to dig deep and understand their questionable decisions, decisions that have brought them through the journey to where they stand today. There is no chastising; there is no concealing the true emotions of the outcome and participation in certain moments of their life. There is only the striving to understand, the acknowledgment of the feeling, the ownership of actions and the refusal to chastise or punish the self.

When I work with authors, I receive their transcriptions for the beginnings of their books. This is the modern (and fast!) manner in which all new books are churned out and working in this way does a fabulous job of “writing down the bones,” but what is often not understood is that the meat may be lacking. We can recite the events in our lives, but transcription is just the tip of the iceberg of the story. How did you feel? What were the thoughts in your head, your hesitations? What was the scenery? What was surprising in that moment and what was said?

These elements of memory are what we work to exhume.

Lovingly, I will lead authors through their experiences, into feeling the truth of what they have experienced. And lessons are fraught with growing pains. We get on with life and sometimes we stop acknowledging the hurt, the necessary part of growth. This is what we work on…the closure, the healing and it couldn’t be accomplished without the base of acceptance and safety. Tell me the worst about yourself and I will tell you why you are still valuable.

Give me your terrible ideas, your deepest doubts, your fear and defensiveness and I will wrap you up in acceptance anyway.

This is what I try to emulate from the best leaders I have been exposed to, while shying away from others who have summarily berated, goaded, and leeched from me “weaknesses” only to exploit my pain later.

If you think there is no soul-searching in business, in recalling the greatest lessons we have learned professionally, please reconsider that notion, and the moments that defined you. Wade into the deeper end of consciousness to learn if you need stronger closure or understanding.

This will only heighten your comprehension of yourself, of who you are every single day. Of how you show up at work. And beyond.

Positive leadership is an integral part of how I do business every single day. It is an integral part of parenting, each message, each proclamation over a decision, even the prickly ones, couched in love. You are not “a disappointment,” “your decision is disappointing.” You are not unwise, but your choice might be.

Positive thought leadership does not stop at the “leader.” It keeps going like the ripples advancing outward from the thrown stone. It moves into the hearts and minds of the people you coach and into their worlds, to their centers and tiers of contacts. Positive thought leadership is not so much an action as it is a movement that anyone can join, regardless of influence or position. Because we can all be leaders, models in everything we do and through the various touch points with all the people in our life. From the gal changing your oil to the dedicated nurse who wouldn’t leave your father’s side. To the little girl on the sidewalk sizing you up. Every person and being with whom we come into contact becomes a thread woven in the movement, set into motion with the kinetic power to improve the world.

Original article appeared at The Good Men ProjectReprinted with permission.


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