One of my clients, we’ll call him Jim, found himself promoted to the elevated leadership role of Vice President about this time last year at the Fortune 100 where he’d steadily been building his career. In our year of working together since then, he has blown all performance measures and metrics out of the water. He’s regarded as an outstanding leader, and is poised for unlimited success.
Recently, we were reviewing the tools he’s used to accelerate his learning and trajectory. And although we celebrated how he has positioned himself as a strategic leader in his organization who brings creative, nuanced thinking to problem-solving and is brave enough to share his opinions even when dissenting; has led, influenced, and overseen key organizational initiatives; has addressed difficult situations and conversations and is known as the person you’d want to send in to resolve just such matters; has captured the attention and respect of leadership at the highest levels of the organization; has handled with dexterity many, many unexpected fires; and has won both the hearts and the efforts of his team, these are not the things we discussed.
Instead, we reviewed the tools that I’d shared with him that would help him lead himself.
Below you’ll find 6:
- A keen observation of the narrative he was telling himself, particularly during challenge.
- A meditative practice of some kind to connect to calm, center, and knowing.
- An abiding knowledge of his values and the leader he wanted to be.
- A mantra that he knew to be true that would help him reframe difficulty to see a bigger picture.
- An awareness of his reactions so that he could choose them rather than be run by them.
- A regular physical activity to drop out of his head, clear his mind, and ground himself.
How do these seemingly soft tools create hard results? They all support a leader in bringing the best of themselves to the substantial rigors of their roles.
When someone rises to the level of senior executive, there is no doubt about their technical proficiency.
What distinguishes them is being able to use it as a launch pad for leadership.
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