Why the Inner Work is a must for any Leader
The biggest frustration by far in any company is culture, which is primarily driven and influenced by leadership. The skill of leading seems to be missing these days, especially in middle management. The age of bold leadership is becoming a thing of the past as it nears extinction. For obvious reasons, of course, throughout history, some of the most impactful leaders were gunned down for doing what they felt was best for the greater good of humanity. These events sparked a subconscious fear of silence and intimidation into future leaders of the same caliber from stepping into the spotlight and speaking their truths.
Broken promises, lack of accountability or initiative, and just like so many of our politicians do, putting themselves above their teams is a heartbreaking and prevalent reality within corporate leadership today, creating a nonexistent community. When did caring about people go out of fashion? When did we start forgetting the importance of emotional and cultural intelligence? When did people-pleasing start influencing our business decisions? Your team knows when you are covering something up out of fear of judgment to gain the acceptance of upper management. People can see through our veils of denial. So, why not be okay and embrace who you are without fear to be authentic and vulnerable with the acceptance that not everyone will like you.
There is a constant focus on being strategic as a leader, but what does that mean? The literal definition is having a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim. More often than not, leaders are consumed with back-to-back meetings and have no time to think about the how, why, and big picture plan of attack, even outside of work in our personal lives, many of us don’t have a strategic framework for our own life. We have normalized this culture of busyness where we lose our intention and thought and operate on autopilot versus intentional response. Their lack of time management and pushing back on their bosses forces them to rely on “pockets of excellence” within their teams to get by. These “pockets of excellence” are people who don’t hesitate to jump in and fill the gaps with clarity, direction, and plan by questioning both leadership and themselves. However, they eventually burn out and leave knowing their worth is valued somewhere else. The core of leadership is strategy, which means being proactive, organized, and trusting, skills I have seen in short supply. As humans, we need and crave direction, but need to set aside time to think through the bigger picture of our lives. This critical area that makes us better leaders is a space I am so happy and willing to fill for people to make empowered decisions, take action, and create change.
Like our parents, we begin to see and understand that leaders are just human, and in many cases, they got their position because of their network without realizing that “with great power comes greater responsibility.” Even if you don’t know how to do something like use a corporate tool instead of passing it off to someone else, take this as an opportunity to be a student and increase your skill set to be self-sufficient. After all, people learn by doing and seeing others taking action. This is your responsibility as a leader to a team of other human beings; set an example by talking the talk and walking the walk. I am a firm believer in what a co-worker once told me, “broken people, break people.” This statement rings more relevant today with broken leadership perpetuating a culture of fear instead of healing. There can’t be a better time to do this inner work of self and face what scares us most. Through acceptance, accountability, and mental responsibility, we release our fears and begin taking a risk to live our lives in the world of possibility, understanding, and respect, no matter what. This idea of equality is not just for the societal culture, it’s also for corporate culture. If we don’t have this equality and respect within these huge multinationals internally with their leadership, then how can we expect our government & politicians to do the same?
Another misconception among leadership is a people person. Many leaders confuse being liked by others with liking people. For example, what drives someone to action, is it to mitigate and control what people think of them, or is it action driven by honesty and authenticity that is true to self. This false reality of being a people person is really driven by ego & insecurity through trying to control what others think of you because your reputation of who you think they think you are, being your reality. When in the end, this can’t be more false. Leaders need to be honest about who they are, do the inner work to move on, and be the shinning holistic example of a good human. My challenge at any company is just that trying to change mindsets. For instance, hiring based on resumes versus looking at a whole person and their entire journey based on ecosystem-centric hiring. Knowing their why and how will become critical because if you hire someone who produces results but at the cost of a toxic culture in the long run you are putting a bandaid over something that needs surgery. You need to ask yourself, do these candidates want to lead people or just get paid more? If you pay attention to attrition, morale, and communication patterns, this is where the real story unfolds. It shows you whether your leaders are stepping up or just operating on autopilot. It is also the difference between okay leaders and great leaders, who are aware, doing the inner work, and open to growth.
These are the leaders who know who they are and what is worth fighting for because, in the end, they know they can’t please everyone or change people. They also understand that real connections come from a place of acceptance and space for being wrong. They focus on alignment with their heart & mind bringing clarity to all aspects of their lives. Imagine a world where people took ownership of their lives and accepted that maybe they are not cut out to be a leader, and would do better in this area instead? What honesty, truth, and direct communications could bring to the world, peace maybe. So, what holds you back from being your honest, authentic self in all areas of your life? What would you like to release?