I was recently thinking about some of the pain points many leaders with whom I work tend to experience and a pattern emerged around a particular theme- the art of dying. I am not talking about giving up the breath or facing the grim reaper.
Yet, across the board, I noticed a general trend for these leaders- from the highest echelon of the organization to those closest to the front-line- the perennial struggle is their inability to practice the art of dying to their egos- the need to be right. The need to have the last word. The need to feel important and in charge. The need to win-too often at all cost- the list is endless.
Take for example a senior manager whose tendency is to prescribe to his direct reports from his own experiences and what he knows to be ‘true’. Failing to follow this up with seeking the perspective of his employees- simply hear their side of the story.
His challenge which should come as no surprise is he has to constantly follow up with the staff. Deliverables are often late or just on time resulting in unnecessary angst. A simple act of practising the art of dying to the need to be the expert would result in so much more meaningful and relevant things accomplished all around.
Take the business partner who feels her way is the only way because she just knows and her fellow business partners should just trust her. This may work once or twice but how can anyone expect to lead on all the major decisions without the input of others? Especially those who are key stakeholders? What about the stakeholders’ needs? How does this unilateral decision making process benefit the overall goals everyone is working towards? A simple act of practising the art of dying to the need to be right and the need to feel important would bring more peace to all as well as increased creativity and productivity.
The most powerful change comes when we can die to our self-imposed limits and boundaries. This particular mindset is the most important one that if leaders learn to die to, would bring the greatest all around rewards.
Here’s what I mean. The leader who limits themselves also limits their direct reports. Simply because everything rises and falls with the leader.
As a leader, if you are only talking the talk but not walking the walk, you bring that same level of hypocrisy to your team- the result? You reap what you sow. Working with leaders who know the right things to say in their coaching sessions or in large group sessions is one thing- but the simple art of dying to the need to perpetuate hypocrisy or maintain a facade would bring so much more peace and productivity in the workplace and their own lives.
How do you start the process of dying so you can live to be the best leader you are intended to be? Check out the following steps:
- What is your achilles heel? Start by facing your own weaknesses or blind spots.
- Acknowledge your blind spots and work at dying to them by building and strengthening your natural strengths and abilites.
- Recognize that everyone has blind spots and consequently will need support in learning how to practice point #1 above in order to die to them
- Seek feedback an ongoing basis. Listen for the kernel of truth that is always embedded in the things you need to improve upon.
- Take the kernel of truth and nurture and develop it to becoming a part of your new operating system. This is when a new you is born.
The highest form of leadership is the servant leader- that persons who sees themself not through their title or accolades but through how they can best serve the very people they have been tasked to lead.
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Here’s to loving how you live, work and play!