Clarity of Self.. and it’s influence on leading

Who am I and how do I present?

Leading Edge see ‘Clarity of Identity’ as the foundation of authentic leadership. But focus and consideration for Clarity of Identity (either as an individual or as a leadership team) can oftenbe skipped (or tackled on a surface level) in favour of ‘getting on with the job’.

Who we are, what we represent, what we stand for and how we turn up – all influence our ‘personal’ version of leadership and more importantly influence the opinion of those who look to us for leadership.

There is little value in ‘playing a role’ in this space, if we are leaders (or are to be leaders in the future); either formally or socially; it is our ‘authentic self’ which must show through. Anything else is fraudulent and will be spotted by those around you.

Some questions which may help you consider your personal identity:

  1. How much is enough (how much time, money, effort)?
  2. What does the ‘good life’ look like for you (and for those around you)?
  3. What do you feel when you are let down by others and how do you act upon this (does this change depending on the reason for being let down)?
  4. Where do you find meaning within your work (do you find meaning within your work)?
  5. How do you see obstacles (e.g. as challenges or as adventures)?

Your responses to these questions will begin to build a loose picture of you – how you work, why you work and how you work with others. Note our ‘Authentic Self’ is not fixed and we should not attempt to fight the drift we may feel when the world/context around us changes. What is important is:

  1. To know our ‘true self’, the version of us that exists when all is calm
  2. To understand how this ‘true self’ responds to tension (and what we will do to manage this)
  3. To help those around us to understand the different versions of ‘self’ that may appear


The effect of Tension on our ‘True Self’

We say Leadership has three tension points:

  • The need to ‘Deliver Results’ (personally and as determined by the organisation)
  • Being the ‘Authentic Self’ (in all situations)
  • Being ‘In Service of Others’ (serving those around us)


It is worth exploring how our behaviour may flex if there is a rise and fall in one or more of these. Let’s take the example of – The need to ‘Deliver Results’….

Scenario: You find yourself in a situation where there is increase pressure at work because of:

  • Missed deadlines leading to internal scrutiny
  • Desire from above for higher outputs with same resources
  • Reduction in workforce availability due to illness or staff cuts

What happens to you in this space?

  • How do you come across to those around you?
  • When you are at your worst what do you look like?
  • What systems and process have you put in place to support you in these times (stress)?


Scenario: let’s imagine all is good and you find yourself in a situation where there is a reduction in pressure to deliver because:

  • You are ahead of the game (in terms of design and delivery)
  • You have more person hours than work flow (seasonal work)
  • You have streamlined your systems (so effective in process)

What happens to you in this space?

  • How do you come across to those around you?
  • When you are at your best what do you look like?
  • What systems and process have you put in place to support you in these times (comfort)?


Taking some time to reflect on how you ‘TURN UP’ in these varying situations can be helpful to understanding the ‘true you’ under healthy and less than healthy pressure.


Steps you can take to get ‘Clarity of Self’ and affirm your Authentic Self :

  1. Take time to understand YOU (your inner you, values, beliefs, behaviours, purpose etc) and not just the version you wish you were, but the version you are now
  2. Check with those around you if the ‘YOU’ described above shows up. Check in with others for true displays of these values, beliefs and behaviours Do people feel what you say you are?
  3. Prepare yourself for the wave of pressure, the high and the low that is known to effect how we behave and respond to others. If you have not tested this, you should. Have your coping strategies to hand, try them out and refine them


In summary..

In all that I have read around the subject of leadership, a common theme has presented it self. This is, the better we know ourselves (our true selves):

  1. the better we are able to manage authentically how we feel and therefore behave in a dynamic situation
  2. the more able we are to lead others in times of challenge as we are ready for the flux
  3. the more comfortable/confident others feel being lead by us as they see its still YOU

Knowing yourself and presenting as this person with consistency helps those that follow you to connect with your direction and travel with you.



by Kurt Lindley

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