February is the month we associate with Valentine’s Day. Symbols include hearts, cupids, and the color red –all evoke feelings of love. This got me to thinking about leading in the context of relationships.
After all, leaders can only lead if there are willing partners!
Let’s consider this in the context of a specific partner relationship-ballroom dancing. In a dance, the leader cannot lead without a willing partner. Doing this requires the leading partner be centered and upright, strong and stable. The leader holds the center and gives a clear signal to begin. No force or pushing the partner happens here; just leading from a strong core. The leader is now connected to the partner. Without this, the couple will not move very well or very far. Why, because the willing partner may experience confusion and resistance instead of the willingness to be led.
How to lead with ease and flow?
First establish the connection within self –this is the leaders’ first relationship. All successful interactions depend upon successful communication. The leader sparks co-creative communication by first connecting within. When the leader comes from his own true power, he has begun the true leadership engagement. This power comes from having the intention to simply allow what needs to emerge. The leader engages in open-hearted listening in a spirit of curiosity. The ego mind and its conflict-creating reactivity have disappeared.
How to do this? The gateways are intellectual understanding, desire, and receptivity.
When you awaken the presence within, you become an awakened leader. The awakened leader works from his heart. The more attuned the leader is to his own true self, the more he can connect to others. The external world reflects the leader’s internal landscape; if there is conflict without, the leader needs to look within to see how he may have contributed.
The awakened leader has an understanding of self; she knows that what she seeks from others cannot come from threats or demands, (although in the short-term that may produce a quick result). When the relationship of trust is damaged, any short term gain is not sustainable. Instead, this conflict-creating style destroys relationships, happiness and productivity.
We can all point to countless examples where we were likely the un-awakened leader or follower. We chase results, productivity and success; hoping and expecting that when we achieve what we set out to do, we will finally be happy and fulfilled. Rarely does this happen.
Focusing only on the goal at the expense of the relationship is futile and damaging.
However, many leaders view relationships as convincing the other to do it “our way” or “getting the other to change”.
Instead, what usually happens is that leaders wake up, (often before the clock strikes midnight), and ask:
- “Why is there so much conflict on my teams?”
- “Why do I feel so numb?”
- “Why can’t I get what I truly want?”
The answers to these questions require the leader to go within first. Trying to change others who don’t share your opinions or follow your plans is futile.
What can you change?
- You can change your perspective.
- You can change your moods and emotions.
- You can change your breath. Breath is the gateway to the true self.
In order to move forward with others, first establish connection within yourself. Slow down your breathing and focus only on sensations in the body as the mind relaxes into the background. Centering in this way keeps you in the present moment. You will have fewer reactive behaviors. When you do not react, you are on the way to establishing harmonious, co-creative relationships.
By doing the inner work rigorously while learning to be present with “what is,” you create the future you desire. You are not driven by reactive stress and the ego’s tendency to create conflict. This in turn is reflected in your communication with others. This applies to all areas of leadership in your life; relationships, work, and parenting.
The practice of consciously attuning to your breath allows you to see reactivity for what it is, and also to see it for what it is not. Reactivity is not harmonious. Reactivity is not co-creative. Reactivity is not leadership.
The gateway to true influence as a leader is viewing success as more than simply productivity or short-term wins.
Success is the ability to achieve what you most desire without compromising peace of mind or health –your own or someone else’s.
Latest posts by Susan Freeman (see all)
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- Are You an Appreciative Leader? - October 29, 2015