You May Have Differing Views on What Makes a Good Leader
You know exactly what a good leader is not. You’ve either experienced it in your own workplace, or you can see it in our political leaders. No transparency, continual reliance on lies, deceit, nepotism, cowardice, bullying, to name a few.
You might think of a good leader as a person who is able to use their vision to inspire others towards common goals. Someone you enjoy working with as a team. It often requires a good leader being able to spot the potential in people and be willing to develop that potential. It requires humility, strength of values, ambition to succeed and courage.
We all know leaders in politics and at work. Yet, we ourselves are all leaders.
And we can all step up and be leaders in many different ways.
Simply being parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents, we’re modeling behaviour that’s being noticed by our children.
You can be a good leader within your own family. And a good leader in your work.
It may feel safer to keep our heads down and get on with our lives. So one important aspect of leadership is courage. From ‘Dare to Lead’ Brene Brown writes extensively about this subject and defines 4 pillars of courageous leadership:
1 Vulnerability (this involves uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure)
2 Clarity of values (qualities you regard as important eg Kindness, honesty, compassion)
3 Trust (in yourself and being trust-worthy towards others)
4 Rising skills (resilience – how to rise after a fall)
And What is Courage?
Brene Brown invites us to look at courage by exploring some statements. I invite you to look carefully at them as they will apply to your personal life as well as to being a leader of any kind:
- ‘We’re not having hard conversations’ – it’s tough to begin a hard conversation and have it thrown back at you, be misunderstood or unable to really find helpful language. It can feel easier to avoid the hard conversations. And then we never become skilled at expressing ourselves. It’s a frustrating circle.
- ‘We choose our own comfort over courage’ – as it says on the tin
- ‘Shame and blame are used instead of accountability’ – We can certainly recognize within politics and the media how shame and blame dominate over accountability. But is that something we’re also familiar with in our own day to day lives? I believe it is – you may have experienced it within your own workplace or family, but we’re reluctant to admit it.
- ‘We experience a tough time resetting after failure and setback’ – It can be hard to rise back up after failure or setbacks. But it’s essential. This is where having support in place is necessary. This can range from good friends, a great team of colleagues, exercise and meditation.
- ‘We find it difficult to address fears and feelings’ – Fears and feelings – a mindfulness and meditation practice can help with this. The skill is to know when you are getting hooked into fears or experiencing challenging feelings. Bring self-compassion and loving kindness to any situation, and watch how this helps.
How Do You Start To Become the Good Leader of Your Own Life?
From Brene Brown’s book, ‘Rising Strong’, she talks about ‘The Rumble’.
This entails being honest about our lives. We create stories to make sense of our lives but we may not know how to really own our stories. To acknowledge what some of our default settings are which keep us hidden small, or behaving less than we could.
Rumbling means bringing curiosity towards ourselves.
This is your mindful quest not to take things for granted. To notice how you respond on autopilot. So in any story or situation going on for you in your life, start by being interested in these questions: What more do I need to learn and understand about the situation and about the people involved in the story?
It takes courage to pursue an answer to further questions such as:
- What more do I need to learn and understand about myself?
- What’s underneath my response?
- What am I really feeling?
- What part did I play?
Brene Brown notes some rumbling topics which are worth investigating:
Forgiveness, blame and accountability
Disappointment, expectations and resentment
Love, belonging and heartbreak
Need and connection
Dip into this list if you dare!
There is plenty to explore in the above rumbling list. You can start with your own journaling. Then, if possible, with those close to you, and then perhaps there may be ways to bring it into the workplace.
The Bigger Picture For a Good Leader
If we’re reluctant to address issues such as blame and accountability, how do we expect our political leaders to be any different?
It starts with each one of us, and then maybe at some point, we’ll start seeing and being the leaders we all want. In our personal lives and our political and work lives. It’s a big one. But it’s our lifetime’s work.
And it all starts with the questions. If you’re willing to be curious and open-minded. (Your mindful enquiry, your self-awareness).
And to help and inspire you, check out Brene Brown’s ‘Rising Strong’ and ‘Dare to Lead’. (These are two of her books, in fact, all her books are excellent).
If you’re starting to really question your life and responses to situations you are in, maybe you’re ready to explore Mindfulness. It’s the basic skill from which all the above questions and ideas emanate.
Mindfulness & Meditation Courses available here at Place of Serenity.
Worth a listen: Brene Brown talks about ‘Rising Strong’
More on the work of Brene Brown
Plus look out for her podcast series on ‘The Heart of Daring Leadership – Dare to Lead’ (October 2020)
Yvette Jane – Mindfulness & Meditation Guide
Updated post from first published in December 2019