What they don't tell you when you get that promotion...
We often think of leadership as something that is given to us – as a job, a position, a role that gives us permission to lead others. In reality, merely getting the new office or job title rarely provides the secret sauce that creates instant authority and respect. When someone gets promoted or hired into a leadership role, they often focus on their areas of responsibility and the task at hand. But over time, they begin to wonder whether or not they are actually being effective as leaders.
Think of yourself at work, especially when you are new to the role. Do people listen to you? Are your suggestions being respected and followed? Do you get bogged down in itty bitty details? What is your level of stress? Are you always right? Are your team members honest with you about their mistakes and learning?
The answers to these questions aren’t found in your job description. It has nothing to do with being in technology, construction, education or finance, or even your title, but it does have something to do with YOU. What people respond to the most is the quality of your Inner Leadership.
Role-based vs. Inner Leadership
Role-based leadership is the job title and institutional authority that are granted to someone when they are introduced as a leader with a specific scope of responsibility. This leadership role can be given or taken away, and is generally defined by the organization's needs. The role may require certain abilities, but there is no guarantee that you have them.
Inner Leadership, on the other hand, is the domain of who you are as a human being and how you are showing up. It illustrates how you engage with others, and the level of inner authority and authenticity you bring to work. It’s about how much you trust yourself and others, your willingness to learn, find solutions and move forward. These are inner qualities that arise from within you which cannot be given or taken away. However, inner leadership can be actively cultivated and supported - or squashed.
Often we expect or hope the role will magically give us the leadership qualities we know we need. “If I had the title/role/degree I would feel confident” or “If I was the manager, people would listen to me!” While the role may provide a certain institutional authority, it rarely creates inner leadership. For that, we need to do inner work and develop internal, relational skills.
Over many years of leading, training, and coaching, we have distilled a list of the 8 most important elements of Inner Leadership. Focusing your attention on developing any of these areas will dramatically increase your effectiveness, regardless of your role or position.
The Essential Elements of Inner Leadership
1. Know Yourself
Know your strengths. Know your weaknesses. Own both.
Being transparent about both invites others to do the same, increases team cohesion and safety, enhances creativity and invites others to show up fully.
Understand the inside/outside principle and that people will react to your behavior, not your intention.
What we don’t see and own ends up negatively impacting others, our relationships, and our trustworthiness. What we don’t own and talk about, others will - especially in leadership.
2. Embody Authenticity & Integrity
Being authentic and real is compelling. Being in integrity is empowering. Focus on being trustworthy rather than evaluating others.
Do what you say you will do and take responsibility when you don’t.
Say yes, and follow through - or say no, with respect. Honor your agreements, honor other people, and honor your word.
Devi Cavitt Razo and Deepika Sheleff are co-founders of Aurum Leadership. They are also close friends who have dedicated their lives to creating powerful, honest, resilient relationships.