Define Your Personal Leadership Identity

Your Personal Leadership Identity

You have a personal leadership identity that has the potential to influence and motivate others. Achieving results and driving others to a common vision are within your reach when you focus on that uniqueness.

What you need is to think about your differentiators.

One of the reasons I study leaders and various leadership styles is because each of us can learn something from the greats while moving toward our own uniqueness.

And that’s why Danielle Harlan’s book, The New Alpha: Join the Rising Movement of Influencers and Changemakers Who Are Redefining Leadership, appealed to me. She packed this book with advice on how to become the best version of yourself and to use your influence for good.

Danielle Harlan, PhD is the Founder & CEO of the Center for Advancing Leadership and Human Potential. She completed her doctorate at Stanford University and has taught courses at both Stanford Graduate School of Business and U.C. Berkeley Extension’s Corporate and Professional Development program.

I recently asked her about her new research, focusing specifically on her concepts of a personal leadership identity.

 

“Each of us possesses the innate potential to make a meaningful impact in the world.” –Danielle Harlan

 

Your Unique Identity

What is a Personal Leadership Identity?

danielle harlanPersonal Leadership Identity (PLI) is the unique combination of qualities and talents that make you unique and distinctive as an individual and that you can easily and naturally draw upon in order to enhance your leadership effectiveness.

The example that I share in The New Alpha is about a new manager who struggled as a “stern and commanding” leader (which matched the “image” that he had in his mind of how good leaders should act) but had a breakthrough when he identified his PLI, which was actually the total opposite of this. As soon as he found his “real” self, his leadership effectiveness increased dramatically.

The big idea here is that many of us have this “cookie cutter” image of the “type” of person who makes a good leader, but the reality is that each of us is at our most powerful, and our most impactful, when we allow the best aspects of who we are naturally to guide our leadership “style.”

Knowing your PLI is also really helpful in terms of creating a vision and plan for our lives—based on who we actually are, rather than who we think we should be.

 

“Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself.” -Warren Bennis

 

Make Work the Pursuit of the Meaningful

How can you use it to determine whether you’re in the right role and pursuing the right vision?

At its best, your career should be a professional manifestation of your Personal Leadership Identity…if there’s general alignment between your PLI and what you’re doing or where you’re headed, then you’re in the right role and pursuing the right vision. If not, then it might be time to think about how to change or adapt your role to better suit your PLI, or to make a career pivot.

 

“Greater than the tread of mighty armies is an idea whose time has come.” –Victor Hugo

 

This is, of course, much easier said than done, and many of us put off the hard work of aligning our life and career to our Personal Leadership Identity because it’s a big task and we’re busy. However, not addressing this disconnect only results in deep misalignment and unhappiness in the long run. In these cases, instead of work being an opportunity to pursue what gives us a sense of meaning and purpose, it becomes a chore that we must do in order to survive, pay our rent or mortgage, etc.

 

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

 

How to Define Your Personal Leadership Identity

What’s the best way to define your Personal Leadership Identity?

Chapter 6 in The New Alpha book spells out a step-by-step processing for doing this, but the gist is that our Personal Leadership Identity doesn’t usually come to us out of thin air; rather we uncover it by reflecting on our life and experiences and by identifying the values, strengths, skills, passions, and ideal conditions that have facilitated our best and most enjoyable successes.The New Alpha

For example, if you ask me what qualities I bring to the table as a leader, I might say that I’m intelligent, empathetic, and gritty. However, if you ask me to reflect on my best successes as a human being—those where I achieved something AND enjoyed doing it, and then asked me to analyze these accomplishments in terms of what they tell me about the aspects of my personality that I could draw upon in order to be a good leader, I might find intelligence, empathy, and grit in there—but I might find other more unexpected qualities too—like love, curiosity, and a sense of humor.

This retrospective and holistic approach often yields more interesting aspects of our PLI than we might come up with by simply “naming” our best qualities or relying on other people to tell us what we’re good at.

 

“By working to become the best version of ourselves, we develop the foundation competencies that are necessary to effectively lead others.”-Danielle Harlan

 

Do you have an example or story of someone who understood this concept and how it changed their future or perspective?

How to Deal With Irrational and Impossible People

You’re CRAZY!

Have a manipulating boss driving you nuts?

Is a co-worker bullying you?

Do you have someone irrational or deceitful in your life?

You’ve tried explaining, tried rationalizing, tried…everything…and still, you get nowhere.

 

What do you do when you are talking to CRAZY?

 

“To reach irrational people, you need to know why they’re irrational.” –Mark Goulston

 

Enter acclaimed psychiatrist Mark Goulston with the answers. Mark’s new book Talking to Crazy: How to Deal with the Irrational and Impossible People In Your Life is a guidebook to dealing with the impossible people that cross your path. His suggestions can be put to work immediately. I know because I did. And they work.

Recently, I asked Dr. Goulston about his exceptional new book and his practical observations and suggestions in dealing with difficult people.

 

“Life is beautiful but people are crazy.” –Charles Osgood

 

We Are All A Little Nuts

When a psychiatrist says “We’re all at least a little nuts,” it gets my attention. How are we all a bit crazy? What’s the best way for us to identify our major issues and weaknesses?TalkingToCrazy

We’re all a bit crazy because we all engage at times in non-rational, non-functional self-preservation (a.k.a. our identity).  That means that when the reality of what we are dealing with changes, we will often continue to “do the same things over and over, expecting different results.” The reason for that is because in an increasingly specialized world, the areas in which we feel competent, confident and in control are increasingly narrow. That translates into trying to stay inside those areas rather than adapting to the new situation facing us. By the way, I don’t see “crazy” people as mentally ill.  I have great compassion for and spent 30+ years treating people with significant mental illness, because they truly cannot stop acting the way they do until that mental illness – depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, ADHD, schizophrenia, etc. – is treated.  To me crazy people are people who can control their behavior, but choose not to.  In essence they abuse or take advantage of their relationships. They drive us crazy vs. being truly mentally ill.

 

“Being crazy isn’t enough.” –Dr. Seuss

 

I was incredibly moved by Mr. Harding’s story during your residency. What did this teach you?

It taught me not to jump to conclusions or be overly influenced by others before I gather all the information I can from the other person. That means patiently taking the time to truly understand and go to “their there” before I try to fit them into “my here.”

 

“The only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well.” –
Alfred Adler

 

Lean Into Crazy

Leadership Moxie: What It Is and Why You Need It

Decide to Lead

Attending a conference recently, I had the opportunity to see leadership in action.  We were sitting in a small, windowless room after a long day of listening to speeches.  I was asked to attend this meeting mostly as an observer.  The first person to talk immediately began explaining a problem.  It wasn’t a few minutes into her explanation when heads were nodding.  Apparently, the problem had been discussed time and time again.

But no one did anything about it.

Finally, a woman stood up and said, “I was at the last meeting and we are no farther to a solution now than we were then.  We have to do something.  Here’s what we are going to do…”

What she proposed was bold and somewhat controversial, but the atmosphere changed instantaneously.

Why?  Someone decided to lead.  Objections were raised, but she was determined.  You could hear the determination in her voice.  Her eyes were intense as she proceeded to outline the plan.  She was prepared, ready.

She had the guts to lead.  She was demonstrating, as you will see, M.O.X.I.E.  Moxie is a leadership formula, a set of characteristics, that distinguish leaders from others.  It makes a leader, like that gutsy woman, start to make things happen.

 

Lead With MOXIE

My friend John Baldoni is a leadership expert who has recently written about moxie in his latest book, MOXIE: The Secret to Bold and Gusty Leadership.  You may recognize him as the author of numerous books such as Lead With PurposeLead Your BossHow Great Leaders Get Great Results and Lead By Example.  He has also authored thousands of articles in publications ranging from the Wall Street Journal, Inc.com, Fast CompanyForbes, to Harvard Business Review.  I recently caught up with John to talk about his latest book.

 

“Moxie is the guts and determination leaders apply to achieve their goals.” -John Baldoni

 

What is moxie and how is it important to leaders?

Moxie in its purest form is the guts and gumption and determination leaders apply to achieve their goals.  Implied in that definition is the ability to meet and overcome adversity.  Few leaders achieve much without facing up to hardship. Resilience is inherent to moxie.  There is no shame in getting knocked down; it’s what you do next that matters.

MOXIE BY JOHN BALDONI MOXIE BY JOHN BALDONI

And please know I borrowed the word from the movies.  Think of characters who overcome the odds.  We say they have “moxie.”

M.O.X.I.E. is an acronym that really is a blueprint for effective leadership.  Let’s briefly touch on each letter:

Mindfulness.  How does a leader become more mindful about her self and her team?

Practice Self and Situation Awareness

Mindfulness, as I define it, is a combination of self-awareness as well as situation awareness. You develop self-awareness through practice of self-reflection.  You strengthen it by asking for feedback from trusted colleagues.  Situation awareness comes from knowing the score, that is, what’s happening and what’s not happening.  Leaders need to know how their team and organization is doing and they gain that perspective by asking questions, observing, listening, and evaluating what they learn.

 

See Opportunity All Around You

Opportunity.  Opportunistic leaders look for ways to improve everything.  Is this a mindset that can be taught?  How do you coach someone to be more opportunistic?

Leaders are those who see opportunity where others see obstacles. Leaders view challenges as occasions to address problems and find solutions.  True enough some of us are more disposed to opportunity than others, but it can be learned by watching how leaders navigate challenges and turn them into opportunities.

 

“Leaders see opportunity where others see obstacles.” -John Baldoni

 

History is shaped by such mindsets.  As I write in MOXIE, Nelson Mandela viewed South Africa’s hosting of the 1995 Rugby World Cup tournament as an opportunity to bring both white and black together as a unified people, at least for a sporting event Mandela developed such an opportunistic attitude during his long years in prison where he did all that he could to understand his captors, even learning their language Afrikaans.  As South Africa’s first black president he led by example. He did not cave into bitterness; he exemplified reconciliation which was institutionalized and put into practice through the nation.

How Leaders Leverage Opportunity through Entrepreneurship

This is a guest post by Mohsin Memon, the founder and director of Memcorp Learning and Performance Solutions. Memcorp believes in entrepreneurship in its truest form.

How often have you heard the phrase ‘lead by example’?  Probably one too many times.  We’re all told that we ought to lead by example without any understanding of what leaders do, much less how they think.  First and foremost we must recognize that great leaders from all walks of life embrace entrepreneurship not only in action but entrepreneurship in its truest form. Which means they entrepreneu in all aspects of their lives.  Entrepreneu is a verb and it constitutes many elements, but we’ll focus on one key element of what it means to entrepreneu here: Leveraging Opportunity.

Great leaders are great opportunists.  They are patient and wistful about the right opportunity. This doesn’t mean they idly wait for the perfect time to make a move. It means that they make the best of their current scenario.  An effective leader does that in two ways.

Creating Opportunity

When we think of creating opportunity, we realize that we must make decisions that help us create the right opportunity.  Yet with decision making, we often think simply in the terms of a decision that leads to one good outcome and another that perhaps leads to one bad outcome. The key word to be understood here is ‘one.’   To create real opportunities, we must think of decisions that could be made that lead us to arrive at multiple positive outcomes.

Great leaders are in a constant hunt for opportunities where they can apply the law of dual reasoning, when their one action stems from two distinct and profitable reasons.  In such a scenario, through the outcome of their decision they will have positioned themselves in a way to have a choice of two positive options instead of one good and one bad outcome. This enables them to create opportunity with choices.

 

Great leaders are great opportunists. -Mohsin Memon

 

Leveraging Circumstance

More often than not we’re put in situations that we are not content with.  Life doesn’t always pan out as we plan it, which is why we must adopt the mentality of Leveraging Circumstance. The mentality of Leveraging Circumstance comes from the understanding of what the great author Napoleon Hill once said: “Every adversity, every heartache carries within itself a seed of equivalent or greater benefit.” When we truly understand what the author is trying to say, we can begin to leverage our circumstances. In simple terms, we’re speaking of that silver lining in things that don’t go our way.

A Bug’s Life Guide to Decision-Making

Photo by fly again on flickr.

Remember the brilliant animated movie A Bug’s Life?  (Disclaimer for animated purists: I haven’t watched the movie in a few years, so this is my mind’s interpretation, which may be technically inaccurate.)

There’s a scene shot next to a camper van.  It’s a quiet evening.  You hear the night sounds of all of the insects chirping and buzzing.  It’s a peaceful evening.

You then see a bug light glowing in the background.  Two bugs are talking as they fly in the area of the light.  One starts to go closer to the light when the other one calls out, “don’t look at the light!”  His bug friend, continuing to move closer to the light, says “I can’t help it.  It’s so beautiful!”

Seconds later you wince as you hear the inevitable buzzing sound and see the flashing light.  The bug screams as the bug light does its job and kills the insect.

The bug light.  Or, as this website calls it, the “electrical-discharge insect-control system.”  It’s designed to rid your outdoors of annoying insects.

So many times in life what may look good isn’t in our best interest.  The key question is how do you distinguish between genuine opportunity and a disaster.  And that discernment isn’t always easy.  What can help guide you?