Evolving Leadership

There is no safe way to be great as a leader.

Dana Galin

Dana Galin on 04/08/21

Perhaps in your effort to try, you struggle with imposter syndrome or perfectionism. Maybe you take on too much, lack clarity of vision, or one of the many other myriad challenges leaders face. 

Wherever you find yourself, take a strategic time out to check in with yourself. Where you are a year from now is a reflection of the choices you choose to make right now. 

Is any of this familiar?

  • You’re on a treadmill of constant busy-ness and stress
  • You can easily point to your business goals, but lose sight of your own leadership vision and the outcomes that truly matter
  • You spend more time “playing not to lose” (trying to stay safe) versus “playing to win” (focusing on purpose)

If so, you’re not alone and some of the following strategies can help.

As leadership coaches consulting with high-octane leaders every day, we see this scenario play out time and again. Senior executives who get caught in the weeds are often unable to spend enough time thinking about what the business needs, their leadership vision and the changes that need to be made to get there. 

Whatever our motives are for taking on too much, many of us don’t take the time we need and deserve to pause and take a macro view – to get present to the big picture and make conscious decisions about our leadership.

Here are three strategies that have worked for our clients:

  • Clarify Your Vision: We’ve all heard about the importance of vision, but how many of us have created one that provides true meaning and direction? Thinking through your values, strengths and the outcomes that matter most to you will help you determine how to prioritise your time, stay engaged, and gain buy-in and support along the way. 
  • Locate Yourself: Most professionals focus on not one but two jobs. There’s the one you’re paid to do and the one you unconsciously sign up for - managing your image to stay “safe.” For example, “I know my team member needs to learn how to do this project, but he’s taking too long.  I’m going to take the work back, because I can do it faster and I don’t want people to think we are incompetent.” Even with a desire to develop the team, this leader reverts to old behaviors to keep safe AND in the weeds. Effective leaders can identify when they’ve been hijacked by fear and overuse their strengths, often causing more harm than good. Learning to identify when you’re operating from a place of protection vs. purpose enables you to make more conscious choices and stay true to your vision. 
  • Understand Your Drivers: When you feel stuck in the weeds, simply knowing you need to take a system perspective isn’t enough to create change. You can’t count on your will and effort alone to change our behavior (or else you wouldn’t still be reading this). Often, hidden core beliefs drive our actions and generate the results we get. For example, if a leader believes “If I want something done right, I need to do it myself” or “real leaders get their hands dirty” then they will stay in this pattern of doing too much. It’s critical to identify and reframe limiting beliefs so that you can generate better results.

    Some of the most senior executives we work with still find it hard to complete the transition from doing the work to leading the work. It can be challenging to shift when the very factors that generated results for so long are no longer what we need to succeed. The better able you are to pause and take stock of where you’re going, where you are and what drives you, the more likely you will be to create the changes that will help you and your organisation thrive.

    Interested in learning more?  Learn about Evolve, a leadership program developed for female leaders.  
    If you are interested in applying, nominating other women or learning more, contact Dana Galin, Founder of Imprint Leadership Partners .

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