What’s At Stake?

Do you ever find yourself in the middle of a heated debate about what is true? As a younger man I was up for that debate because I mistakenly believed that my identity was wrapped up in being right. I mixed up my priorities, and instead of focusing on what was important, I was focused on what was true, on being right. Your culture could be at stake when you do this.

What for you are the non-negotiables in life? As a leader it is your role to set the direction of your team/company or organisation. Any vision you have should be aligned with your values. There are however many ways to achieve the vision and you do not have a monopoly on good ideas. Too often I have gone into a team meeting overly apprehensive about some proposal I am going to table, hoping I can remain open minded as others share their opinions on my idea. But what I needed to learn was the rejection of my idea is not the same as rejecting me. For some of us, we are so invested in being right you forget it is your values which are at the heart of your identity.

            “What we know matters but who we are matters more.” Brené Brown

When you equate the rejection of your idea with a rejection of yourself then as a leader you will unconsciously move towards protection. You falsely believe when your idea is under threat so too is your identity. At the heart of this for me was needing people to like me.

When your identity is founded in your values then the view becomes much wider; you can relax around the presentation of your ideas and be more vulnerable. When this revelation hits you, it is a game changer in your interactions with the people around you. People will then understand your values which then drive your culture. Brené Brown puts it this way:

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.”

At the point of vulnerability – where you put your idea out there and have no idea how people are going to react, you must get to a point of saying I am going to be ok with that. When you do this as a leader you set the stage for an unfettered conversation and creative solutions which will only lead to the improvement of your idea. Otherwise, you will build walls, become increasingly shut down, and stifle the very innovation and creativity you need for your organisation to grow.

Values are important. When your values are under threat then people should know this is not something you can agree to.

When you know your values, you know yourself and when you know yourself, you can lead yourself. Successful leaders know where they are going and the values that shape the journey. The rest is a collaboration with and empowerment of individuals which make it possible.

How do you react when you think your identity is under threat? Is it possible you have prioritised being right over being true to your values?

Staying vulnerable (and true to your values):

  • Remember it takes courage to put ideas out there and run the risk of rejection. Courage begins with being vulnerable.
  • Getting it perfect is more about what others think of you it’s actually not possible to get to the best without others.
  • Let people see who you are, as a leader this will mean people understand you and your expectations more clearly.

There are many more I could go into. As a coach to successful leaders, I am happy to explore these with you and show how your vulnerability may counter-intuitively improve your leadership, get in touch here.

You may have noticed I referenced Brené Brown a lot today. She has done some amazing work around shame and vulnerability check out her work in her book \”Daring Greatly.\”

Stay safe.

Mark Billage

Mark Billage

Mark’s passion is to help realise individuals’ potential, be they leaders or team members, through empowering organisational culture. He has spent 7 years leading an organisation based in the non profit sector. In that time, he focused on creating a culture that enabled and empowered individuals, with the aim of seeing a high performing team better able to achieve the organisation’s mission.

Our Vision

To train and equip leaders to transform culture, build successful teams and organisations where everyone is seen, heard and valued for their unique contribution.

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