Leadership IS personal

Robert was well known as an executive who would go ballistic for the smallest of transgressions by others. He seemed to take everything personally, and often blamed the messenger who reluctantly carried any bad news into his office. I often heard him yelling and swearing so loudly at someone that you could hear every word he said from across the large building we both worked in.

People feared him.

Until – for no reason that he revealed, he changed, and we all grew to love him because he no longer reacted as if everything required his angry, boisterous response. It didn’t matter how it happened, but it mattered that it did. When his obituary was recently published, I could remember him not as the stridently berating individual he had been in the past, but as the kind, caring, giving person he had become.

I know that something happened inside of him that caused him to change on the outside. He went from living in personal crisis to discovering what was more important to him – and whatever the personal crisis, it was no longer personal.

We’ve all experienced personal troubles, but rarely do we consider how those might impact how we show up at work. We live in denial, believing that we can be authentic while ignoring the parts of our life outside of work that keep us from being the leader we’re meant to be.

Is it time for you to consider that your inner life, who you are, what you value, and the whole of your life as contributors to your ability to be the best leader you can be? This is important because when something isn’t quite aligned in your life, it impacts how you show up at work, for better or for worse.  Leadership is personal, after all.

You can’t be a different person outside of work than you are at work – at least not sustainably. Be mindful of the biggest things that can impact how you show up at work:

Relationships: Are the relationships you have with partners, family, friends, and acquaintances what you want them to be? Where are the gaps? What personal responsibility are your willing to take on in order to change the relationships that don’t serve you any longer?

Values: Are your personal values aligned with your personal life? Are you being the person you need to be that exemplifies those values? What needs to change, and how will you gather the courage to do so?

Health: Do you pay attention to those things that are within your power (diet, exercise, regular medical checkups) to assist you in having vibrant health? If something is amiss, how will you address it? What new habits are needed for you to support a healthy body?

Spirit: How are you nourishing your spirit? Are there things you need to explore or do that you’ve longed for in your life? What would it take for you to step into them, and how might they impact your leadership if you embrace them?

You can’t separate your ability to lead at your best from your personal life. Leadership IS personal. What’s missing in your personal life will show up in some way in your work life. What do you need to change in order for you to be the leader you want to be and others deserve you to be?

I am a former executive in a Fortune 100 company. I have owned and operated an executive coaching firm since 2003 called Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. We partner with great leaders to help them become even greater at developing, improving, and sustaining relationships with the people who are essential to their success. This blog is for leaders and those who help them to be more intentional about relationships at work. My top personal values include respect for others, kindness, compassion, collaboration and gratitude. I work very hard at practicing my values daily and when I don’t succeed, I practice some more. I am married with two wonderful daughters and two spoiled pugs.

One comment on “Leadership IS personal

  1. This is a subject that requires greater debate as issues outside of work invariably impact work yet there is very little recognition of this fact.

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