Leaders: What's Your Story?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

I’ve been working with a group of high performing emerging leaders the past few months on developing their leadership skills.  One of the things we’ve focused on is their “story”; that is, what it is about each of them that makes them who they are as a leader.  What values and qualities have they developed throughout their lives that create their current leadership style and story?    An important part of this story is not only a look at the past and present but also a look into the future.  This is about creating the story of whom they will become so that we can focus on developing those qualities they want to exhibit in their life and career moving forward, beyond where they are today.

Although they like focusing on this, some leaders also struggle with it because they hone in on what they “should” be doing.  I often get questions such as, “Should I be focused on continuing to get bigger promotions and expand my leadership responsibilities or not?”  I usually take this opportunity to ask them what they want to do instead of what they should be doing.  I suggest they shift their perspective to creating their future story from the viewpoint of what they want and what is truly right for them versus what they feel they “should” do.  “Shoulds” sometimes lead to resentment and dissatisfaction whereas focusing on what is fulfilling, from both a career and personal perspective, can create a satisfying and rewarding life and career.  By making decisions from this perspective, the “shoulds” eventually go away.  How?  Because focusing on what you want and what you truly desire from your career enables you to be at your best and perform to the best of your ability.  As I tell my emerging leader clients, “”replace the “shoulds” with “wants” and see what happens… it’s your story so why not write it exactly as you want it to be?”

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