You are a leader. Whether you are a business owner (like me), a manager at work, a small group leader at your church, a parent, or just a really good friend, someone looks up to you, and what you say and do matters. As a Psychologist and a growing leader myself, I have never been more acutely aware that it is SO EASY to lead others in a way that is reactionary and is born out of our past hurts. This is just human nature in general, and being a leader doesn’t just magically change that.
Hurts Shapes Us
Our hurts shape us. It is inevitable, and every time we are wounded, it marks us.
What are some of your wounds? Did you get made fun of by someone growing up? Did you suffer from bad acne as an adolescent? Maybe you had a parent who was ‘less than stellar’ (i.e. abusive or similar). Or maybe you didn’t even have a parent. Or maybe you had a decent childhood but now as an adult, you find yourself falling into some addictive behaviors, like overeating, to manager anxiety.
We all have our human nature to contend with. And our human nature is selfish and is self-protective. That means that when you have been hurt in the past, you naturally tend to develop a protection around that hurt to avoid getting hurt like that again. It’s like armor is created to deflect the arrows.
You are a Leader
You are in the position of leadership. Therefore, you have power and influence in the lives of others. The challenge is that if you aren’t very explicit in your own mind about NOT leading by what comes natural, you will continue your natural selfish ways and lead in a way that meets your “needs” and keeps you protected. This isn’t a judgment on you. Rather, tt is just human nature, and I am not immune to this either!!
More Stress, More Self-Protection
I see the effects of this all the time in my work and in the relationships I’ve built. And there is a positive correlation between the amount of stress/ pressure that we experience and the amount of self-protection we gravitate towards. We are most vulnerable to protect ourselves in self-interest when things are hard at work, home, or in our relationships.
What is the antidote for selfish leadership?
2. A plan to change
3. Accountability in change
You can’t change something that you aren’t aware of- or at least you can’t consistently change it. Sure, you can accidentally fall out of a pattern momentarily, but you’ll get right back into your strongly established pattern of behavior in no time. Yet, knowledge alone isn’t sufficient for change.
For example, we all know that smoking is bad. Yet how many people in this world persist in this addiction? There has to be a clearly laid out plan for how to change. Then, the missing link for most people is that they don’t make themselves accountable to at least one other person for the change. This can be spouse, a friend, a mentor, a pastor, and psychologist. Someone needs to be able to hold you to the fire when things really get tough. They need to be able to firmly and lovingly guide you back on the course that you decided on.
Set Your Plan Today
Today, reflect on where you are a leader. Commit to being a better leader and uncovering all the ways in which you have been hurt and are vulnerable to leading out of that hurt. Then create a plan for change and find someone to come along side you as you change. And I’d love to hear about how this transition goes! I find great delight in leaders bettering themselves for the sake of those they lead!