Why Leaders Struggle to Change
Obviously, it is possible to be a better leader. But without doing the hard work of making deeper internal changes, everyone will all fall back into old, long established patterns. They can’t help it.
Why? Most leadership is focused on the external. Do you want to be a better leader? A better friend? A better parent? Then get more skills. Read more books, go to more seminars, acquire more knowledge and you will be an amazing leader! I wish it were that simple. Wave a wand; call the genie and ‘poof!’ everything changes.
But our actions are deeply rooted in behaviors we have collected and lived over a lifetime. They originate from values and belief systems that were ingrained in us when we were still children.
For example, have you ever lashed out at someone or become defensive about an issue occurring at work and the reaction was a bit over the top? Where did that behavior come from? What factors caused you to react or overreact? Simple. Your past was in control before you even realized what was going on.
When we are born, our lives don’t come with a set of values and expectations. We learn them from the parents or adults who raised us. Since our understanding of the world is a blank slate, we are extremely impressionable. We are learning how the world works, what is right and wrong, what love and fear look like – all at the same time. We didn’t ask for these realities, they were forced upon us. It’s like painting whatever you want on a blank canvas. That’s the beginning of our values and beliefs.
How does this impact us as leaders? For one, if we’re not aware of how we have learned to see the world, we will forever be victims to our reactions. Wrong reactions can hurt others and create a climate around us that impedes trust. Two, we need to make strong commitments to rewrite some of the behavior in our lives that has the tendency to be destructive. This doesn’t happen by reading a book. It happens over time in a trusted environment with a coach and with personal self-reflection.
That is why we are so committed at Inspiring Authenticity to walk with leaders over the long term and help them understand their behaviors, values and beliefs. It’s also why we are strong believers in completing 360–degree assessments for every single leader we work with. It’s one of the most accurate ways to understand how you see yourself as a leader vs. how everyone else sees you.