This past week we had our monthly executive team meeting and much like we have for the past thirteen years, we kicked off with a conversation about our work on values based leadership. In these exchanges, each of us are asked to reflect on the last 30 days and share how we have been doing with our work on self, and the impact we are having on others. After a few of the officers spoke an interesting but not surprising trend began to emerge as it related to their (and my) self-awareness and subsequent self-management. To the person (there are 6 of us), we told stories about missed opportunities in our leadership and in every case the look in the mirror (our path to “what do I own in this?”) revealed stories of workloads, deadlines, jam packed schedules, lack of sleep and simply not having enough time in the day. Interestingly, at this stage of our values based leadership journey we know that each of these conditions are negative contributors to our physical well being which in turn lowers our ability to be “present,” as well as gets in the way of being able to keep our awareness high, and ultimately effects how we lead in service to others. We also know and discussed in a very transparent and vulnerable way that each of these situations are a direct result of our own choices – and the solution was staring right back at us in those mirrors we were looking in. Our journey continues.
In his book Principle-Centered Leadership, Stephen Covey talks about 4 dimensions that are foundational to principle-centered leaders: power, wisdom, guidance and security. He describes power as “…the capacity to act, the strength and courage to accomplish something, and the vital energy to make choices and decisions. It is the capacity to overcome deeply embedded habits and to cultivate higher, more effective habits.” Covey goes on to identify characteristics or discernable traits of principle-centered leaders that are signs of progress toward the 4 dimensions listed above. Self-renewal, the focus on our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well being, is one of those characteristics that Covey closes with by saying “…will gradually produce a strong, healthy character with a powerfully disciplined, service-focused will”.
My week culminated by guest lecturing to a group of undergrads on visionary leadership. Driving home that night I found myself being a bit critical of the class and even more so critical of my own performance. I began to question my choice to support an old friend who asked me to sit in, and whether or not it was a good use of time given the leadership perspective of the young students. It was one of those weeks where I was jumping from meeting to meeting during the day and working long hours into the night just to keep up. I was exhausted heading into the class on Thursday evening and fell into a dead sleep at midnight when I finally got home. I woke up 8 ½ hours later (3 more than I had gotten on any previous night in the last few weeks) and had very few things scheduled on a day where I would be working from home. There was extra time available for my wife, my workout and even some light reading. As the morning progressed I found myself thinking very differently about the night before and the extraordinary nature of the students I had met. I truly began to feel like I had a positive impact on at least on a few of them and actually started to hope for another engagement. It’s amazing what a little sleep, time for self and quieting our minds will do for our perspective and how we see the world around us.
How about you? Have you noticed similar patterns in your leadership? Are you practicing self-renewal to ensure that you live, work and lead as the best version of yourself? And when you do, have you noticed the exponential effect of positively impacting the lives of those around you?