It’s easy to be drawn into the rhythm of living and working day to day, doing what we need to do without giving it much thought. We do things because we have to, we do things because we gave our word, we do things because they are expected of us.
Richard was in the pharmaceutical industry. A prospective star in his company, he was brilliant but enough of a bully that he was nicknamed “the monster.” I was called in to help him become the executive everyone knew he could be.
I asked him how he saw himself as a leader. “Well, I never thought about it,” he said. “I am here to do a job and do it well. I am here to get the work done any way I can.”
When I showed him the feedback from those who worked with him — feedback that focused on his moodiness, his temper, his inconsistency — he was surprised, expecting instead to hear how smart he had been.
“I make great decisions,” he complained. “What about all the money I’ve saved the company? I make all my targets. I’m a great executive.”
I had to break the news to him that when people call you “the monster,” you might be a great executive but a terrible leader. I suggested that we spend some time thinking about what was important to him. Why did he want to be in the pharmaceutical business? How did he want to leave his mark?
Stepping outside his smart head, he courageously began telling me what was in his heart. And in a few weeks we had we had mapped out a leadership manifesto with a blueprint that reflected who he really was — all the way to the core
By going inward he was able to create a clear vision of what he wanted to accomplish. Learning to connect with his heart gave him a clear mind and a clear way forward. It forced him to go outside of his comfort zone, but the information and insight he gained were priceless.
The transformation took some time but the results were amazing. Richard was no longer thought of as “the monster”; he became a respected thought leader in his organization and industry.
Most of us don’t have that kind of challenge to overcome. But learning how to take the time to step back and reflect is essential to any leadership, no matter what title, position or level. Becoming an introspective leader takes practice; it is a learned skill. Developing thoughtfulness gives clarity to our passions and focuses us on our purpose.
Lead from within: Take the time to go inward. It is not a skill that we are born with, but if you begin now to develop it and make use it of it every day it will always be available to you.
Lolly Daskal is dedicated to helping cultivate the right values, vision, and culture for individuals and organizations. She is the founder of Lead from Within, a global consultancy whose clients range from heads of state and CEOs of large multinational companies to budding entrepreneurs. Daskal’s coaching, consulting, and speaking uses a heart-based leadership approach designed to help people to achieve their full potential to make a difference in the world.