In addressing what leadership is, we could just as easily think about what it’s not. As I was pondering this I realized that many people, myself included, grew up with beliefs about leaderships that are simply not true. So, today I want to start with my top three Fallicies about leadership:
- Leaders have the answers
- Leaders are right all the time
- Leaders are strong … all the time
Now I know even as I say these statements, I recognize the errors.
First off, they are absolutes, and when anyone uses an absolute, it opens the door to focus on the exceptions, the “yes.. buts…”
Second, I recognize these statements are not true. But is there a part of you that does believe these statements?
For me the answer was, “yes.”
These beliefs were deeply embedded from my childhood. I grew up in a family that loved discussion, and you were encouraged to express your opinion PROVIDING you had evidence or data to back up your point. My Dad was very big on thinking, but unfortunately his idea of thinking often meant I should come to the same conclusions he held. So very early on I linked speaking up with defending myself. Clearly, it wasn’t the best connection. As a child I tried to hold back if I wasn’t sure I was right about something, and needless to say, this didn’t work well. Before long my natural spontaneity emerged again, and so did the need to defend myself. School added more layers to this idea that if you are going to speak up or stick your neck out, you should be sure you were right. Does this resonate for you?
I recognize underneath these beliefs was fear and sense of vulnerability; a fear of being wrong and therefore less valued or perhaps even less loved; a fear of making a fool of myself and worst of all a fear of being seen as weak.
As children we can have many experiences that seem to prove or support limiting beliefs about ourselves. As we grow we develop a sense of who we are and how much value we have, based of the feedback we receive from those around us. Unfortunately, this feedback contributes to a vicious cycle we can get trapped in — an endless cycle of trying to prove our value. This can last a lifetime, and needless to say is the very opposite of what we truly want. Most people I coach, consult and collaborate with want to be free to express their creativity, passion and purpose. They don’t want to be limited or confined.
If you recall the blog I did on our Genetic Needs — for Love and Belonging, Power, Freedom and Fun/Learning — you’ll understand that all of the needs are compromised and reduced when we are in the cycle of proving our value and worth. One of the reasons I feel it is so important to understand these Psychological Needs is because they “drive our behaviour.” If any of the needs are threatened, we go into protection mode and mount our defenses. When people understand these needs they can really understand more effectively how and why we all do what we do.
Dede Henley, in her book, The Secret of Sovereignty: Women Choosing Leadership at Work and in Life, says there are Seven Deadly Traps that ‘women’ leaders often fall into. I don’t think this applies just to women, but I understand this was her focus in the book. See if you can link these “Deadly Traps” to the needs above.
Seven Deadly Traps for Women Leaders:
- Being One of the Boys
- Martyrdom: “I’ll Do It Myself
- Having No Voice and No Choice
- Waiting for Rescue
- Peace at Any Cost
- Hurry, Hurry, Hurry!
I see a direct link between our desire to belong, be valued, etc., and the behaviours we use to be one of the gang, keep the peace and so on.
So what do we do with beliefs that limit us? There are many answers to this question but in a nutshell we have to shift those beliefs.
Sometimes that occurs when we see a powerful example of what we want to be instead. I had this experience when I saw a presentation by Lynne Twist. Lynne wrote the book, The Soul of Money – Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Life. She went up to the front to present, had a box of tissues with her. I immediately thought she must have a cold. This wasn’t the case. She quickly explained that the tissues were there because each time she shares stories of the people who taught her about money, generosity and how life really flows, she cried. She said she continues to be deeply touched by the “heroes” who impacted her and her learning. She proceeded to tell some amazing stories, and she cried her way through her presentation, and I was touched to the core. She was an example of a real leader for me…someone who inspired me to be both vulnerable, real and strong, all at the same time.
Brené Brown is someone I have mentioned before and her book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, is a ground-breaker! She directly links vulnerability to transformation, and that the challenge is to find the courage to be vulnerable. Most people have experienced being shamed for their vulnerability…and this is what she believe stops people in their tracks.
So for this week, consider where you could be more courageous in your life, by being more vulnerable, more open, more curious — just the opposite of being right all the time, or knowing it all.
May you have a great week, full of discoveries and opportunities to lead, just by how you show up.
Understanding more about your Genetic Needs and how they work will help you to make better decisions regarding your behaviours and responses… and will help you to better understand those around you.
If you have enjoyed the blog and our conversations about Genetic Needs and Limiting Beliefs, we will be offering opportunities for you to participate in “in-person” learning. Please indicate your interest by filling out the form below, and we’ll be in touch with more details.
Please note we have added a box where you can indicate your interest in – knowing more about how your Genetic Needs affect your life, and how to clear Limiting Beliefs.