How lined up are you as a leader?

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January 15th, 2015

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Few people have inspired me to the point where I’ve done something significantly different from what I was going to do; where I have exerted myself to help bring someone else’s vision into reality. Maybe you’ve seen many more, or perhaps you’re still looking for a first. While I don’t worship these various characters (making heroes out of our leaders doesn’t help them or the followers much, from what I’ve seen) there is something different about them. The field of leadership development is not short of explanations, but I find few of them truly useful.

I experience each of the above people differently of course, but they share some attributes. In particular, they all embody a strong alignment between their action and words, creating a sense of possibility, conviction and focus. The practice of embodied leadership brings ideas like alignment into a solid, useful place where I can practice doing something different. But what is embodied leadership? Well, this is tricky, because a head job it is not, so describing it doesn’t take us far. A story might help though.

Once upon a time I encountered a man. Sure, he had charisma – whenever I was in a room with him, I felt inspired. I also felt included in what he was about and that made me want to join him and act; he had an ability to help me unfold my own meaning within the context of his vision too. Finally, he was clear and strong in voicing his own mind – I knew where he stood and that helped me work out where I stood. But I also experienced a warmth and lightness in him, almost a buoyancy. His mission was serious, but we laughed a lot. Then I met another man (sorry, yes, another man). He was smarter than the first in IQ, but despite his best efforts (and there was a lot of effort!) people just didn’t follow him. It has bugged me for years that I’ve not been able to put my finger on the difference that made the difference between these two well intended men, one a vastly more influential leader than the other.

But this is still a “doh” answer, right? “inspiration, aha; inclusive and honouring, really; firm in convictions; well thanks for finally resolving the mystery, Tom!” But while we know that these are essential to instill in our followers, many who find themselves in leadership roles still don’t know how to manifest any of it.

Well, here’s the start of an answer at least. For me, what it boils down to is that man number one is closer to being all of a piece. In embodiment terms, his head, heart and core line up more of the time and he can keep them that way a lot of the time. When I connect and align all three of these parts, my awareness in the world clarifies and my intention and energy to act is stronger but also less effortful. When I find this in me I experience a power to create impact that comes through me from around me not just from inside me – I can truly achieve more with less.

This is no silver bullet, or at least not one that can be prescribed overnight – working with our bodies as well as our minds takes a different journey of development, but the pay off is big, in my experience. I still make mess, get confused, upset people and so on, but I have a stronger base to come back to and begin again from with energy, confidence and compassion. I wholly recommend it!