Two Questions about Your Leadership


Good morning! I hope you enjoyed the holidays and are off to a strong start in 2019. Two items this morning – one a challenge in two questions, the second a book you must read.

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I want to challenge you with two questions I have been pondering for myself the past couple of weeks:

  1. How have I changed in “leading myself” in the past year?
  2. How do I want to be intentional about changing in the year ahead?

I am not asking about your accomplishments. Instead, I am asking you to reflect on your “inner game” of leadership.
One thing I observe all leaders need to work on is less autopilot leadership, and more conscious or intentional leadership. Autopilot is reacting – doing things the way you’ve always done them.
Conscious/Intentional leadership is about pausing and choosing to lead in a different way, with the hope of getting different outcomes. It is also about leading from within, not just reacting to external factors, like making those around you happy.
I refer to “the inner game” of your leadership because your results are preceded by your beliefs-thoughts-feelings-behaviors.

Beliefs => Thoughts => Feelings => Behaviors => Results

There is a lot happening inside you before you act. The inner game of leadership is where you consciously lead yourself by noticing and then managing all the beliefs and thoughts and feelings that precede your actions.
So how did you change your inner game in 2018? And what would you like to change in 2019?
Let me offer some of my own reflections as an example for you.
I am always thinking about the future – as in, “am I ready for what comes next?” It is a trait that helps me think ahead and be prepared. The downside to this strength is that I can clutter my head with “all that still needs to get done” before I can rest. The trail from belief to results can look like this:

  • My belief: I have to get it all done before I can rest
  • My thought: There is no way I can get everything done by my deadlines
  • My feeling: Fear, that I will let somebody, or myself, down
  • My behaviors: Withdrawing from others so I can work on “all my stuff;” short-tempered if anyone interferes with my “getting stuff done,” etc. etc.
  • My results: Alienation with those closest to me (my wife!); no rest – including sleepless nights thinking about everything; lack of focus; not fully present (because I’m too much in the future)

In 2018, I changed my core belief from “it all has to get done immediately” to “only a few important things need to get done today.” It took discipline and felt risky to modify this belief, and then the thoughts-feelings-actions that followed. But that is what real change looks like in a leader – it is hard and risky.
And the results REALLY showed up at Christmas-time, when we had family under our roof for six days. Unlike the past, I was not pulling away every single moment there was a lull in the action to get my stuff done. Instead, I was more fully present to others AND more relaxed and at peace with myself.
I hope this example is helpful to you.
Give my two questions some thought, maybe jot down some notes as you reflect, and talk about them with another leader you respect.

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And, a book I’ve read in the last 7 daysBad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup (Carreyrou). Surely, you’ve heard of it by now. This real-life corporate thriller, a case-study in bad leadership, has it all:

  • A deceitful CEO who believed her own lies
  • A bullying President who punished subordinates
  • Otherwise smart board members and investors who were seduced by the story that was too good to be true
  • Ethical employees who did the right thing at great personal cost

Read it and learn!

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Thank you for subscribing and please forward this to other leaders you know.
Lead well.