We speak about leadership SO MUCH these days. Everyone has something to say about how to be a great leader. Including myself, of course, I am a Leadership Coach after all?.
From my own 20 years’ experience as a leader and coaching many leaders on different levels from the managers to VPs, I see one major difference between the ones that are series about being great leaders for others and those who say they want to be great leaders for others but what is really driving them is acknowledgement and approval from the outside world.
The first group has genuinely others in mind. If you work for somebody like that, you are a very lucky person! Stay there and learn.
The second group pretends to have others in mind while really what they are after is for the world to say “you are a great leader”. This is an ego-driven leadership. And very often this can be a subconscious attempt to be approved of, admired and loved because of the person’s emotional (often subconscious) wounds.
Nobody likes ego-driven bosses. We all have had a “privilege” working for them. A few names immediately pop into my mind, that’s for sure.
And as I said above, I was certainly one of them when I was younger and hungry to prove myself.
So there’s no judgement here.
On the contrary – I want to stick up for these girls and boys, women and men.
They need help.
Not in a patronising way.
I am going to talk to YOU directly.
If YOU recognise yourself as one of those leaders who is afraid to fail, who wants to be constantly approved of, recognised as THE leader who has things always under control and never asks for help because you think you “should” know how to handle every situation – PLEASE STOP AND TAKE A BREATH.
It’s not leadership – it’s a sure route to self-destruction. It might take 30 years but you will pay a toll at some point in your life. Health, relationships, your sanity, loneliness, emptiness. Or all of it.
And I get you.
I know that company politics is often tough. I know there is still very little space for being genuinely vulnerable, honest and open – even though your company says it wants to promote all of the above.
I know it – I coach many of you across different industries.
No matter where you work (and what position) – the story is often very similar.
The truth is that your bosses are as scared and uncertain as you are.
People often try to protect their own. In any way they know how.
And it’s often a chain reaction.
You do it because you see your boss behaving like it. And she does it because she sees her boss behaving like it.
I am a deeply spiritual person. I am also a very practical person. And yes – these two go together. They dance together very well.
BEing combined with DOing.
And remember – I’ve been where many of you are.
Scared of failure, scared of being a disappointment, working fourteen hours a day just to have things under control, going insane in my head – not being able to switch my busy mind off, waiting to be approved of, waiting to be told how good I was.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying a compliment. Nothing at all.
But if waiting for the compliment is the only thing that is driving you – that IS a problem.
And a sign that it is time to get serious about YOUR OWN RELATIONSHIP WITH YOURSELF.
Your desire to be constantly acknowledged and praised is based in FEAR.
You are scared.
It really is as simple as that.
And I want to give you a hug.
Depending on your upbringing that fear might show up in many different ways:
- people pleasing
- being aggressive
- being a complete idiot as a leader (sorry)
- not being able to create healthy boundaries and saying “no”
- trying to figure everything out on your own – not admitting you don’t know something
- over-delegating and talking to your teams from the ego place of power (makes you feel powerful and important)
- not being able to delegate
- telling your team how to keep their life-work balance while you don’t know how to do it yourself
I could go on.
And so I invite – if any of the above resonates, please start doing the work.
Don’t ignore the signs.
It’s YOU asking for YOUR own attention.
Not your boss’s, not the outside world.
Your own attention.
Especially if you are a LEADER, it is your responsibility to first sort your relationship with yourself.
You cannot lead others if your own relationship with yourself is rocky.
Be an example to your team.
I am not saying jump on the desk in the office and shout “I’m not OK” but maybe look in the mirror and ask
“How can I start feeling empowered, not scared? What needs to happen?”
Don’t wait until you’re asked to pay that toll fee.
Start taking care of your SELF before the toll invoice comes in the post.