There’s always room to be a better person. Always. – Anonymous
I feel like I’m a better person. This is feedback we often hear from people upon completion of one of our Values Based Leadership (VBL) programs, and it has intrigued me for years.
Much of InnerWill’s introductory curriculum is focused on building self-awareness. We help participants understand who they really are by delving deeply into personality style, personal history, and core values. We don’t present a picture of the idealized perfect person to aspire to be. Instead,we encourage self-reflection to see who is already there. So, it is fascinating to me that so many people emerge with the feeling of being better than they were when they started.
Don’t get me wrong, the change taking place in the behaviors these leaders exhibit is very real and significant.
Recently, a woman who had completed a 12-month VBL program with a cohort of leaders from her organization shared with me what her demeanor had been in years past. I was struck by the utter contrast between what she was describing – “terse, totally task-focused, and pretty stiff” – and the lovely, at-ease personality I was enjoying getting to know. I might have left the conversation feeling she had an overly harsh view of her past behaviors if it wasn’t for her co-worker knowingly nodding his head as she described herself.
I asked her, So when do you feel most like your authentic self – then or now? I was genuinely curious about whether this transformation felt natural or if she was working to be something different than she felt she naturally was. Now, without a doubt, was her reply. This is who I am.
She went on to share that she knew this to be true because of her relationships. She described renewed relationships with co-workers that she had previously all but given up on, and a relationship with her daughter that she hadn’t imagined was possible. What she probably didn’t realize, was that she was actually describing another key practice of Values Based Leadership, Developing Relationships. Who we are as leaders only exists in our relationships with others.
At InnerWill, we believe that the feeling of being a better person enables the possibility of being a braver leader. Brave leaders are certainly those who are willing to stand up for what they believe and value. They strive to make choices aligned to their values and beliefs even when there is pressure to do otherwise. But brave leaders are also those who are willing to be vulnerable, to share their authentic, better but still imperfect selves with others. They have the courage to notice how they impact others, and to adapt where they can to ensure that impact is a positive one. The bravest leaders help others become their better selves.