Transcending The Layers Of Leadership Identity
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Transcending The Layers Of Leadership Identity
Dr. Gregory Stebbins is the Founder and Master Coach at PeopleSavvy. He is a member of the American Psychological Association.
While working to become a self-aware leader, one of the inquiries we need to explore is our leadership identity. As leaders, we create, promote or allow our leadership identity to take shape. While we grow as a leader, our initial identity will act as a foundation. Subtle changes take place over time as we experience life events that we might categorize as wins or losses. How many of us have ever said to ourselves, “Well, I’ll never do that again,” and then repeated the action? If so, it’s time to grow our self-awareness.
If we choose not to take the time to develop our self-awareness, we might have an event that shakes the roots of our leadership identity. These events can be emotional, employment-related or involve family life. Echoes of this shaking may cause us to reorder our self-concept and present a slightly different leadership identity.
What Are The Layers Of Our Leadership Identity?
We can use a self-awareness process to discover the various layers that form the origins of our leadership identity. Each layer of identity influences the layer within. As we unpack the layers and expand our awareness, we might find that each layer above is more subtle than the preceding layer. Starting at the center, we have behavior.
For most people in an organization, a leader’s behavior is the first noticeable aspect of our identity. Are we warm and welcoming, or do we come across as cold and dictatorial? Or are our behaviors something between these two extremes?
Our behaviors reflect what we consider essential. We decide what we work on and what work our direct reports do.
Our behaviors also shape our identity. When we behave in a certain way, and that behavior generates a positive feeling, our identity is validated. Our identity can also be influenced by others — for example, our boss. We may choose to stop unwelcome behaviors or hide them by not doing them while the boss is present.
Behaviors are a core component of identity because no one else can choose our behaviors for us. The motivation for specific behaviors is rooted in more subtle layers of our leadership identity.
Interpersonal skills directly influence a leader’s behavior. Strong interpersonal skills enable leaders to produce significant relationships and motivate employees while navigating organizational obstacles. Multiple studies have shown that leaders with high interpersonal skills create more connected and motivated teams.
The ability to foster interpersonal relationships through empathy, trust-building and clear communication are foundational skills that impact both the leader and their team. Not having interpersonal skills often results in other valuable team members choosing to build their careers within a different company.
Various leaders might have the same behaviors but are driven by different attitudes about leadership. Suppose that we are compassionate leaders. We might be driven by our attitude that compassion for another is a primary purpose of leadership. Or we might be driven by noticing one of our employees is having a challenging time, and the situation calls for compassion. One attitude is driven by our internal operating system, while the other is driven by a need to be situational.
Values set our standard for what we would or would not do and guide our attitudes. In other words, what we believe is essential. Our values operate in a hierarchy, determining our priorities. We often sacrifice lower-level values to keep upper-level values intact.
Values are fairly stable but may change throughout our lives. Things that were important in one life stage may no longer be important later. This is why it’s key to continue to be aware of our values throughout our lives. Continuously revisiting them ensures that we feel and work from a balanced perspective.
Beliefs And Assumptions
The next layer of identity is based on our beliefs and the assumptions that we make about those beliefs. As Iulian Ionescu explains, “Beliefs are the things we hold as true, regardless of whether we have any proof of their objective truth. Beliefs are developed and inherited.”
Ionescu continues, “As we grow up, we learn and take on the views of those around us, especially those whom we look up to.” From birth to about seven years of age, we each go through a process called imprinting. The good news is we learn like a sponge. The bad news is we learn like a sponge. We have few cognitive filters for the beliefs that are being imprinted on us by our parents, relatives, teachers, friends and friends’ parents.
He also writes, “We also develop beliefs resulting from personal experiences and the feelings that we associate with them in those moments.” Repeated actions influence the assumptions we make about our beliefs.
As the majority of our beliefs sit at an unconscious level, learning to recognize that we have a belief often suggests the use of a 360-degree assessment. For example, we may not know that our leadership identity is controlling and that we are highly defensive. Getting feedback from direct reports, peers and bosses is likely to uncover the behaviors associated with the layers above. This is the starting point to discovering the roots of our identity.
As we grow into adulthood, we may model our external world or challenge the beliefs that have been imprinted on us as children. Our beliefs impact the values we find important, attitudes we hold for different people and activities, interpersonal skills we use when interacting with others, and behaviors we use. All of these make up our leadership identity.
Often, the most crucial outcome of exploring each layer of our identity is to prevent us from derailing our leadership career.
via Forbes – Leadership “https://ift.tt/35Uaszf”
March 25, 2021 at 04:43AM