By Bala Chandran
Earth — our dear planet, our home — has a population of about 7.8 billion people. These 7.8 billion people live on this one planet and one world. True? Not entirely.
All of us may be living on a single planet. Still, each one of us lives in a world of our own making. Each one of us creates our own model of the world through our unique set of experiences, judgments, reasons, and actions. Hence, no two worlds will ever be alike. Every single person’s world differs from another, and no two worlds are exactly alike. In essence, our planet holds 7.8 billion worlds in it.
Let me explain. Imagine a situation — let’s say a small mishap on the road between two cars. The drivers will both have their own version of the story (about whose fault it was), and a bystander/observer will have a different version. We have three different experiences of the same situation, which will go on to shape each person’s model of their own world.
At this juncture, you may be wondering what all of this has to do with leadership.
When it comes to leadership, everyone tries to embrace something (books, established models, etc.) or someone (bosses/industry seniors). Some teach you ‘how to be,’ and some teach you ‘how not to be’. What works most is what we see happening to and around us. We get inspired, imbibe, internalize, and instill what we see and experience. This includes the style in how we deal with situations, and how we show up through our mannerisms (dressing, speaking, lingo). While it is a great idea to pick up pointers and strive to become better, we always need to remember that the core, our identity, and our essence shouldn’t be buried. Whatever you decide to add to your arsenal should only amplify your core, not replace it.
Realize that what works for someone else may not necessarily work for you. Yet, many find themselves encouraged by others to do so. How many times have you experienced being told to be a certain way because that is what leads to success? How many times have your leaders pushed you to follow their style of doing things (maybe because they believed that it’s the only thing that works)? How many times have you been told to emulate others by forgetting your way of doing things? How many times have you seen yourselves thinking of solutions based on how some of your role-models would believe in that same situation?
What we need to realize is that there is no alternative to replacing this core. This is absolutely unique and irreplaceable. Don’t bury yourself (and being yourself) in the process. A lot of effort goes into this entire process, and a lot of ‘doing’ happens. Come to think of it, most want to be leaders, but they end up only following!
By leaving behind our core, our individuality gets replaced by what others are ‘doing.’ Your core is the foundation of Vision and Purpose (which acts as the wind beneath your wings and enables others to see you as a leader), and the values that you live by (which define you). Getting back to your core is absolutely critical to be crystal-clear about one’s Vision and Values that define how you lead.
Now, let’s go back to the beginning of this write-up to the 7.8 billion worlds on one planet. Since all of us have a different and unique model of our own world, this patchwork job of trying-to-do-what-others-did-to-succeed-as-a-leader does not work. Whatever instances of success we may have experienced could be more of a fluke than anything else. How can something that works well for someone else in their model of the world work well for you in your model of the world — unless it truly applies to you complimenting your own core Vision and Values.
The main quality required to become a good leader is to embrace yourself. Embrace yourself and your core completely. Not because it has anything to do with whether it works or not; it is actually the only way of ‘being,’ When you bring nothing but your core being to the table, there is complete honesty and integrity and an absolute congruence in who you are. There are no added layers of who you are not.
I am not saying that you should close yourself off from being inspired by others. I am just inviting you to take all that inspiration and learning to add more dimensions to who you are, to amplify your core, not replace who you really are. The core ingredient always remains the same — you.
With this congruence in who-you-are, you are no longer ‘doing,’ you are simply ‘being.’ You may even find effortlessness in everything you do.
This ‘who you are’ is the most powerful entity in the entire world. The best version of yourself is hiding under all these layers, and behind all these versions that you are pretending to be.
This way of leading is genuinely being a leader, and this entire process of getting there (which is a never-ending one) is the actual process of ‘becoming!’
Bala is a Corporate Leader, Certified Coach, and Mentor. Over the last 21 years, he has delivered various leadership transformations and has set-up & scaled-up various businesses. He firmly believes that helping people to fulfill their potential helps build strong teams and high-performance cultures. When individuals meet their potential, businesses also benefit. To contact Bala please click here.