Do the work – leadership development starts inside

We are masters of exterior development = learning new skills, gaining experience, falling down, getting up, making things, unmaking things, studying, practicing, applying, doing, being busy.

Our education system is built to train us to be effective in the exterior world. We spend our corporate training dollars working the exterior over. Communications skills, negotiation skills, management skills…..

Yet this is only half of the equation.

Here is the truth. Every time I have done an interior audit of a leader…meaning…had them examine where they spend their thinking time….the time they spend being consumed by worrying about things like…

..how to resolve personal relationship issues…how to handle renegade children…dealing with a Board that is not aligned…figuring out why they seem to lose their power under certain circumstances…trying to pacify wayward staff…terrified that someone will find out that they actually don’t know what they are doing…or even deeper existential questions like….is this the right way to do things….how can my contract have me so completely focused on profit when it is turning the company and me into a consuming monster…

..the amount of time spent ruminating on these questions often exceeds 60% of thinking time. This leaves 40% or less available for the leader to spend on the work they are contracted to do in the world.

Our education and work places are not designed to engage with these deep interior dialogues. Often we fear going there, with little to no skill in how to navigate this territory. We also fear the admission price, which can include intense emotions which are prone to make people extremely nervous.

As a result it is common to have a 3 year old brat make business decisions.

How does this happen? The leader has an aspect of self that is completely unreconciled and in certain moments of stress the unreconciled 3 year old brat is the chief decision maker.

We need to work on the interiors with equal commitment as we do on the exteriors. We need to create environments of safety where there will be zero judgement when a leader speaks to the core of their vulnerability.

And we need people skilled enough to steward the dialogue. To be able to sit in the deep listening space, creating a field of safety and trust, able to support the leader to navigate their own interiors in such a way as to bring clarity and alignment. A 30 minute masterful conversation with someone with this skill set can save the leader days of endless recycling of the issue.

We gotta do the hard interior work. We have to go where it feels unsafe, vulnerable, risky. Even better to do this with a skilled guide.  Discuss this with me if you are interested.

 

Photo credit: Creative Commons License Kevin Dooley via Compfight

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