Leaders: ‘Don’t Take One for the Team’

First published 10th April 2020 medium.com

I wonder how leaders are shaping up presently? The leaders who are full of knowledge and experience of their industry and have risen to the top because of this? The leaders who have grown in a world where emotions were firmly left at the door in the workplace? The people who have been shaped to compartmentalise their very being, to hide their vulnerability. The vulnerability that shows up in anger, snappiness, aggressive and controlling behaviours… Fear. Sadness. They have been alone for a long time. This isolation isn’t new to them, they have felt cut off and needed to make really tough decisions and deal with the flak on their own. This must be a scary place.

When fear drives decision making you may not feel or experience the negative results immediately, it may show up 6 months later with valued team members or clients exiting stage left ‘unexpectedly’. Fear blinkers us. We no longer have a range of possibilities when fear is present. The current global situation requires openness to possibilities, to letting go of control, to saying “I don’t know”, to help seeking and being supported in the world. The more we practice saying “I don’t know” and asking for help, ideas, conversations or consulting with people outside of our immediate circles/industries the better the outcomes will be.

Practice self-compassion

Don’t miss this chance to change, to be yourself or change who you have been, treat yourself and others with kindness and compassion. Practice something today that makes you feel lighter, listen to your body. If your gut reactions to a presenting dilemma cause you anxiety — stop what you’re doing and take 5 deep breaths. Breath in for 5, hold for 5 and breath out for 6. Then come back to your body, look at the presenting situation and see what options are available, if none seem right ask for help, ask if anyone has any other ideas? Sit with it. A rushed decision can sometimes be a really big mistake that simply adds to your stress levels and anxiety. You’ll never feel good about it and will end up having to revisit the mess that is created.

I worry for you leaders who really would like to let their guards down and learn a new way of being, a way to let go of fear, to have a safety net of trust, Trust in yourself, in others, in your friends, family, colleagues. Trust in whatever changes need to occur to create a different business, a new style of working, maybe even a new career. A way of letting yourself off the hook, letting yourself be vulnerable, becoming a role model for psychological flexibility and inspiration for others. Anti-Hero leadership. We don’t need you to ‘take one for the team’ the team wants to be in this with you. With your authentic, vulnerable, human, messy self.

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