A Strategy to Grow as a Leader

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If you’ve been reading Read2Lead over the past few years you’ve tracked my decided shift into two territories you might call micro-leadership:  leading yourself and leading in dyads. They are profoundly connected.  And here are the two primary reasons why they are, and how they form a virtuous cycle: lead yourself by increasingly leading with and being led by a trusted partner.

First, the father-knows-best world has been decimated. The fallibility of cops, priests, governors, MDs, CEOs, and all other authority figures is undeniable, constantly stripped bare and broadcast, and too-often that attitude is trauma- and even death-inducing. If you have authority – as parent, manager, teacher, etc. – you must grapple with the unavoidable truth that often you don’t know better, let alone best. Titles, positional power, and others’ deference to you simply don’t confer wisdom and truth.

Of course everyone “knows” this. Indeed, nearly every person in authority not only knows it, but speaks or preaches it, too. “Know” however, belongs between those quote marks, because we know lots of things that we simultaneously undermine. I know I need sleep, for example, but don’t go to bed. Know I shouldn’t have another beer and do. Know I don’t manage details well and should delegate but don’t. Know I shouldn’t take criticism personally, but I do. Know Read2Lead gets too long yet I keep writing. Stop!

So, we must question ourself. And, here’s the kicker:  We know that, too! And, so often . . . we don’t!

Thus, point two:  a leading-partner is invaluable to checking us. They can be a sounding board to test things you think you know but just may not. They can remind you of your best self. They can remind you of core values and vision and your strategy, to keep you on track. They can tell you to go home when you are getting tired and mean and wobbly! They can wield some tools with grace, while you may be clumsy or even dangerous with those tools.

I have grown a lot in my leading and teaching and parenting capabilities over the last five years, for one main reason:  Because I have gotten better and better at letting my key partners lead me more and more and more. I start teaching a new grad school course today, and it will be better than the last because I have loosened my grip.  Loosened my grip, because just like holding a bat, club, racket, or guitar, the easier your grip . . .  the smoother your movement. It is simple in retrospect to see that I tighten my grip when I have fear or anxiety and think I must be perfect, I must do everything, others are judging me, etc.  I am letting Laura, my co-teacher teach me more and control more, especially the things that I know I don’t “know best.” Meanwhile, I can wield the tools I do wield well and wield all my tools with greater ease.

With whom and how can you loosen your grip, and let that partner in, to help you to

Lead with your best self

2 responses to “A Strategy to Grow as a Leader

  1. The core and f this rant is that all traditional sources of advice have failed and are no more. “Father” DOESN’T know best. Priests and spiritual counselors don’t help but harm. So now you go to Dan or “partner.” Uh, no. Father still does know best for most things for a child going through his life. He’s been there done that. No one loves you more. My pastor has been an incredible source of knowing best from the God context often the BEST way to go. God Humself in prayer? No that would be ridiculous!! Lol! I suggest the traditional sources of advice and help are STILL the best sources.

  2. Jon, it’s GREAT that you get good advice from your priest. I value and respect my pastor, and my life role model is a priest. Both of them have great self awareness and humility, which is fundamentally what this blog is about.
    As to father knows best, it would be wonderful if all kids felt “no one loves [them] more,” and that their father has “been there done that.”
    I am not attacking authority. That is what you HEARD. That’s apparently your filter?
    I am suggesting that authorities need to check themselves through caring partnerships. Problems begin when people in authority have the seeming blanket confidence you have in your Fr. (or worse that he may have in himself), and the blanket confidence you think your children should have in you as their father. Are you that good? Or do you have a fantastic wife-partner who checks you in the ways I have suggested?
    D.

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