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A Case of Missing Identity

December 12, 2015

A case of missing identity

One question I ask my clients is: What are your leadership aspirations?

When I recently asked a client this question, he gave me a list of things he felt were important as a leader: revenue growth, increased productivity, and various other metrics. He rattled his answer off as if his ability to succeed was directly tied to his ability to regurgitate it. It became clear to me that this was his idea of a vision and that was what he was “selling” his people.

As clear as he was on his metrics, he had done nothing to solve the real mystery of who he was to his people. What they shared with me were comments like: “I don’t really know him… I’m not sure if this guy has my back… I don’t really trust him.”

This feedback was devastating to my client who believed he was living his life with integrity and honesty. He was a good guy, why didn’t they see that?

What they did see was the company guy with stats. No wonder he was having a difficult time getting his people to trust him and perform with heart.

During our time together he learned that in order to come across as the leader he knew he was, he would have to dig deep and develop more self- awareness. If he was to build trust with his people he would have to change direction.

As Marshal Goldsmith said “What got you here won’t get you there.”

This was my client’s time to realize that he needed to spend time reflecting on himself in order to show up differently. This can be a difficult transition for many leaders that have spent their entire careers focused on execution and output.

In our sessions we focused on the following four key themes:

  1. Know why you are the way you are
    What life experiences have shaped you? How can you communicate this to your people so they understand why certain things are important to you?
  2. Lead with your values
    If honesty and integrity are your values how are they showing up in your leadership? Allow your values to shape your leadership.
  3. Clarify your purpose
    Live your purpose with courage and inspire your people to do the same. This will help provide focus when life gets full of clutter.
  4. Dream of the possibilities and create a vision that inspires and unites your entire team
    Most of your people will not be inspired by metrics so don’t use them as a vision. They want to believe in a future of possibilities even if they seem out of reach. Spend more time figuring out what the dream is and paint a picture for your people. As Wayne Dyer so nicely said “ You’ll see it when you believe it.”

Ultimately my client did reach his goals. What’s interesting is that he surpassed all of the metrics once he stopped using them as his aspirations.