By Corah Clark, Transpersonal Therapist and Breakthrough Coach
Advancement, recognition, results and influence are some of the external measures of having achieved a high level of leadership potential within the workplace.
When we feel that we have our work lives on track, we can often be unaware that we may have got stuck in a behavioural groove, where our long-held beliefs and attitudes may actually be holding us back from taking things to the next level.
Sometimes these beliefs and attitudes can be so unconscious, that we only really become aware of them when they present themselves as a block or barrier that makes us feel uncomfortable in some way.
To paraphrase a famous quote by Rumi:
“Your task is not to seek for your (Leadership Potential), but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it”
The Breakthrough to Authentic Leadership sessions are a radical approach to identifying and processing unconscious barriers to leadership potential. They are radical, because they work at the root of the paradox between our conscious desire and our unconscious fears around achieving that same desire.
These blocks and barriers to the full expression of our authentic power can be found on a Physiological, Psychological, Sociological and even a Cosmological level.
Physiological – thoughts and memories that are related to highly emotive experiences, carry a chemical and energetic marker to them. This keeps them in the part of the brain to do with short-term memory and so when they are activated or triggered in real time, the experience floods back into our physiology and feels as if it is happening all over again. Our mind and bodies are linked in such a way that when we think a thought, we will automatically have a response in our central nervous system. You could probably think about something that happened 10 years ago and still blush or cringe or flush with anger.
For example, something about someone within the workplace may activate a memory of a time when you were very young and felt helpless to defend yourself or get away from a situation. Something about their tone of voice, stature, glance or even aftershave can act as a trigger that takes you back to a time when you felt alone or threatened. Before you know it, you act differently around this person and don’t know why, which can feel irrational and even make you doubt your judgment or skills as a leader.
Psychological – our beliefs about ourselves and the world are formed at a very early age. Children between 0 – 6 are super-learning machines and have to make sense of the world from the information around them very quickly. We learn directly from parents, carers, teachers, preachers, bullies and peers and our environment. We learn whether we are loved, cared for, ignored, ‘bad’ or ‘good’ and if the world we live in is safe or unpredictable. Experiences happen to us which start to ‘prove’ the beliefs we have or imprint new ones as we grow up.
For example, some people learn that it is safer to ‘hide in their heads’, as they grew up in a family where expressing feelings was frowned upon or even punished. That person may grow up to be a very logical, highly academic leader, but by disconnecting to their feelings, they may perhaps find it hard to connect in any meaningful way with their colleagues or feel a real sense of compassion for their workforce.
Sociological – this is where we are a bit more conscious of our actions and behaviours and how we interact with the world around us. There are many ways that we can adapt and learn the most effective tools to maximise our presence and impact. By remaining aware that we are continually receiving feedback from the people around us about how we appear as leaders, we can reap the benefits of developing a high level of sensory awareness.
For example, by remaining open to differing viewpoints, we can gain a 360-degree understanding of how we can get the best out of the people around us and consequently become more effective leaders. Our sociological selves are very dependent on our internal references and there is a direct correlation between this and the two previous functions.
Cosmological – the most charismatic leaders have a sense of purpose and meaning behind their actions and goals. For us to be fully-functioning, well-rounded individuals, we need to build within ourselves, our own set of values and an understanding that what we are building has a legacy beyond our individual egos. Ultimately to achieve our highest potential, we must look beyond the mundane and stretch ourselves outside of our known limitations.
For example, when we remain inside our ‘comfort zones’ and lack the courage to look beyond and into the unknown or undiscovered, we strangle our creativity and our ability to inspire others with passionate leadership.
My advice would be to look at blocks as signposts to where the most transformative work can be done, to unlock the Leader that you have always wanted to be.