Transformative Leadership: How to Move from Force to Flow
By Nicholas Sinclair | September 03, 2020
Being a Leader can be challenging. That’s why so many of us choose to let others take the lead. One aspect of leading that can be a challenge, is the responsibility of making decisions. In the last article, we talked about Leading others through leading yourself. Both forms of leadership are about taking responsibility. Taking responsibility for your life. But also, the outcomes of the decisions you make. Taking responsibility for your own decisions is one thing. But decisions that affect those around you is another. Often in life, we can get stuck in the goals and outcomes that we set our minds to. But when other people are involved, we’re often faced with a decision: to force something, or to let it flow. This week: we’re going to delve into concepts of flow and balance. Asking questions like: How do we get people to do things they don’t want to do? And, how can peoples past traumas and personal goals change how we operate?
One thing we can all agree on is that people are very multi-faceted. Often in life we think we know people. Only to realise after getting to know them, that they are completely different. Maybe they have parts of themselves that we never could have imagined.
People are complicated, people are intricate. People are shaped by the many thousands of experiences they have in their lives. And as we all know, life can be many things. Beautiful, joyful, tragic or sad. When we find ourselves in a Leadership position, it’s important to take all of this into account. To step into their shoes. Know the people around you enough to somewhat feel how they feel. “Before we can walk with someone, we may first need to walk in their shoes” (Soutphommasane, 2014). As we discussed last week, a Leadership position can be many things. It doesn’t always look like what we see on the T.V. You can lead within a family. Within a friendship group. With colleagues in your organisation. When it’s your turn to speak at your community hour or at your child's school. Leading is something we do in every moment. The best way to lead is always by example. The “Do as I say, not as I do Philosophy” can be “very destructive” (Mindtools.com, 2019). Words are nothing in comparison to actions. How can someone learn to do something, if they only hear the words associated with them? Embody the change you want to see in others. Then they have a tangible representation of what it is you’re trying to help them understand.
So, what do we do when people aren't doing what we want them to? Is it okay to force them to do it? Or is there a better way?
Like everything in life, there isn’t a blanket approach to questions like these. Grabbing your child when they run into traffic is one thing. But grabbing a work colleague when they’re not listening to you is something else. Therefore, many people prefer others to take the lead. Then it’s someone else's responsibility to decide what is appropriate. But part of Leading is about taking control of your life. Leading yourself to your version of success.
Often, we look for the answers to our questions outside of ourselves. To other people, other places and other things. These can all be great references. Great sources of information. Great examples. But at the end of the day, each of us is unique. Each of us has our way of doing the things we do. So ultimately, the answers to our questions lie within.
“If you can learn to hear, trust, and embrace the wisdom that lives within you, you will be able to confidently navigate your life.” (www.dailyom.com, n.d.)
Understanding the Ego
One of the greatest challenges any Leader faces is that of the Ego. This is a word that gets thrown around a lot in modern society. So what is it? The Oxford English dictionary defines ‘Ego’ as “a person's sense of self-esteem or self-importance” and “the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity.”
Explanation of the Ego:
One could say that: the ‘Ego’, is the version of yourself created by your experiences in this life. It’s the collection of all your judgements about yourself. How you believe others view you. How you believe you deserve to be treated. How you treat yourself. So how does the ‘Ego’ get in the way of us being able to lead? Because it stops a person from being able to view a situation objectively. Or as the Oxford English dictionary states. ‘in a way that is not influenced by personal feelings or opinions’.
Harvard Business Review points out that for CEO’s and people within an organisation “the bigger their ego grows, the more they are at risk of ending up in an insulated bubble, losing touch with their colleagues, the culture, and ultimately their clients. (Harvard Business Review, 2018)
It’s common knowledge; we like to be right. Because if I'm right, then you’re wrong. And that feels good, doesn’t it? Yeah, it does! It’s nice to be right. But why is that? Maybe it’s because a person doesn’t have to question themselves when they’re right. But if a person’s wrong about something, then they need to question why it is that they’re wrong. So how can we separate ourselves from this?
The answer: Is to take yourself out of the situation. “judgments and behaviors toward others that we’re not aware of are everywhere in our lives.” (Ross, 2015). It can be hard to navigate a situation when we’re emotionally involved in it. If we take ourselves out of a situation emotionally, we often see that it’s not about us. It’s about the other person or people and their journeys. We make things about ourselves because that’s how we see the world. Through our eyes, our ears, our hearts. It can be hard to remove we from a situation and make it about someone else. Completely, totally, wholly.
The most important quality in a Leader is the ability to truly see a situation. Whilst also understanding that you can’t always truly see. That’s why communication is so important. You can be the most objective person in the world. With the best Leadership skills imaginable. But if you can’t connect with the people around you. If you can’t ask them how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking. You’re never going to be able to Lead effectively. Because you’ll be Leading only from your point of view.
Being victorious and being successful, means achieving our goals together. What is it that the people around you are trying to achieve? What’s important to them? If you can figure these questions out, then you can lead. Because a Leader doesn’t always lead from the front. Oftentimes a Leader leads from the back. To make sure that no one is left behind.
References: • Soutphommasane, T. (2014). Walk in Another’s Shoes? Reflections on Empathy, Power and Privilege. [online] ABC Religion & Ethics. Available at: • Mindtools.com. (2019). Leading by Example: How to Lead a Team Honestly and Authentically. Available at: • Harvard Business Review. (2018). Ego Is the Enemy of Good Leadership. Available at: • Ross, H.J. (2015). 3 Ways to Make Less Biased Decisions. [online] Harvard Business Review Available at: