Be The Story
It’s not enough just to tell the story of the change initiative you’re leading, you have to truly believe it, and be it.
Sometimes I’m asked by senior leaders, “How do I inspire my people to … (fill in the blank) … take initiative, think outside the box, break down silos, communicate more directly. My answer? How do you inspire yourself to do and be what you’re asking of others?
When inspiration is treated like a game, it becomes one. A game that people see through pretty quickly. Inviting people to bring the fullness of who they are to their pursuits, whatever they may be, requires that the invitation to play be genuine.
As the leader of any cause, initiative or entity, you are the invitation. How you express yourself, what you give your energy to, how you approach challenges and opportunities; all of these things must be congruent with the values and intentions of what you’re asking others to achieve.
Are you asking people to take risks? Well, what kinds of risks are you taking in how you invite them to break with the norm? Want people to be more honest in their communications with each other? How honestly are you communicating with them?
People are always scanning to determine what’s real. They listen not only to what you say, but how you say it. You can’t fake true conviction. People immediately pick up on the inconsistencies between what you’re saying, how you’re delivering your message, and what you’re actually doing.
Do you sense you might be out of sync with your message? Perhaps it’s time to do some personal reflection on what truly matters most to you about the work you’re leading. It’s easy to get swept up in the melee of day-to-day deadlines and competing priorities and lose touch with why you do what you do in the first place.
Perhaps it’s time to step back and reconnect, who are you, what matters most to you and the work you’re leading. Here are a few questions to contemplate that may reignite your deeper sense of purpose:
- What is the greater good of the initiative, project, or function you’re leading?
- What is it about the intended outcome that matters most to you, personally?
- How are you, as a leader, an expression of that greater good?
- What is the gift in your work for you, personally? What is the gift for others?
- Is there congruency between your actions and what you’re asking others to do and be? If not, what needs adjustment?
Take an honest look around you. If people aren’t buying what you’re selling, it’s time to stop selling and start being an authentic expression of what you’re asking them to commit their precious energy to achieving.
Dianna Anderson, MCC
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What has helped you to become a more congruent and authentic leader?