Lead From Who You Are Becoming

A senior executive from a Fortune 100 Company was speaking with deep insight about leadership. At one point she indicated that a key proposition is to; “Lead from who you are.” She went on to tell a particularly powerful story about a man who became fully authentic and greatly influenced his people. As she finished, she spoke of development and she said, “We are all a work in progress.”
As I took notes I put stars next to the two sentences. When I went back to review, I examined her two sentences together and I wrote a new sentence; “Lead from who you are becoming.”
When we look at ourselves from a fixed mindset, we see ourselves as a noun. The self is fixed. “Lead from who you are.”
When we look at ourselves from a growth mindset, we see ourselves as a verb. “Lead from who you are becoming.”
Does the difference matter? When I am stagnant, life loses its meaning. I become filled with negative feelings. I tend towards depression and I have shrinking positive influence that sometimes becomes negative influence. When I am growing, life is filled with meaning. I am filled with positive feelings about me, about the world, and about other people. When I look at others I suddenly see potential in them I did not previously see. Why? Because when I am actualizing potential, I see others differently. I see more potential in them than they see in themselves. The best self in not an old self, the best self is the evolving self, the self that is realizing potential in the present moment. When we lead from the evolving self our influence peaks.

  • Who is the most authentic person you know? Is the person stagnant or growing?
  • What does personal growth have to do with personal influence?
  • What could you do today to become more influential?
  • How could we use this passage to create a more positive organization?


2 comments on “Lead From Who You Are Becoming

  1. I love this! Do you have any more examples of people “leading from who they are becoming”? I’m trying to understand that concept a little better.

  2. This language you are giving us would have helped me a few times already. Let me put an example.
    I once facilitated a retrospective process with a team for which I did not work often. One of the conclusions the team reached in those conversations was they needed a change in their leader’s behavior as part of the larger change they wanted to make. I facilitated also the conversation in which the team described to the leader the change they wanted to create and the new behaviors they thought they needed from him and the rationale for their asking for a change. The conversation went well, both parties listened to each other and the leader promised to think about it and come back with a concrete proposal. I felt some level of hesitation from him, but wasn’t sure what was exactly troubling him.
    He waited for me in the room while I packed my stuff and got ready to leave and, once we were alone in the room, he said: “I am really willing to help this team and they may be right that I need to change, but that would not be authentic, wouldn’t it? I have always been told to lead from true self.” I told him that our true self was always in motion, we were creatures in transit, but that was not probably congruent with his own paradigm of authenticity and did not seem to help him. Unfortunately I did not know any better at the time.
    I wish I had the language back then to be able to tell him: “Lead from who you are becoming. That is how to be authentic while you change.”
    I know now. Thank you.

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