One of my favorite definitions of leadership comes from Kevin Cashman in his book Leadership from the Inside Out
Leadership is courageous & authentic influence that creates enduring value.
Yet, we live in a world where we often equate leadership with the title an individual holds, the number of people on their team, the complexity of the projects and problems they solve, or the magnitude of the P&L responsibilities they hold. Yes, many people in positions of formal authority operate as leaders and do some incredible work. But, that is a very limiting view of leadership.
Leadership is in many ways more about who you are on the inside, how you show up, what behaviors you demonstrate, and the impact you have on the people, systems, and the overall culture of the ecosystem you operate in. And so much of this comes from what you do within the constraints of your job but so much of this goes beyond the formal responsibilities of a job.
An individual can demonstrate leadership when they are brave enough to manage layoffs in a thoughtful and compassionate way to minimize the pain on those being let go and also those left behind. It can come from a gay immigrant sharing their experience with their extended team to deepen empathy. It can come when a senior executive feels safe to go to the C suite to share stories of exclusion and hold them (and themselves) accountable for creating change. It can come when an individual challenges the disconnect between stated objectives and real action around climate change in their supply chain decisions.
As we look to the future, we know we need more of these stories. The pandemic and everything that came over these last few years have shown us how much is not working about our world the way it exists today. We need tools that bring people together, integrating the masculine and feminine and creating results while also accounting for our people, our planet, and not just profits.
And so much of this external impact comes from what’s on the inside – clarity on our values, our strengths, triggers & fears, and knowing how we bring out the best in others and when we dim their light to protect ourselves. The most effective leaders are deeply self-aware and lead from a place of groundedness as they make hard decisions, communicate challenging feedback and deliver difficult news to their stakeholders.
This newsletter is my humble attempt to have the much-needed conversations so we can each grow as a leader in all that we do. I don’t claim to have all the answers but I want us to have the dialogue, ask ourselves the hard questions, and have uncomfortable conversations with others around us.
I hope to explore how we create belonging in our systems so every voice is heard. What could we achieve together when there is psychological safety for every member of a team and our communities at large? How do we own our full power and enable and inspire others to lead with their full power that creates thriving cultures?