Leadership: What Is Practicing You?

We previously established that our current leadership programs aren’t working, and that there is a lack of effective leadership in many companies. To reach new levels of leadership, we must break away from old patterns that keep us locked at our current leadership levels.

One of the ways to do this is by changing the questions we ask. My experiences as a coach have allowed me to see that a lot of the questions leaders get asked when they are engaging in personal and professional development often don’t lead anywhere. Leaders are encouraged to reflect on their behaviors and habits, but not in a way that opens the door to new possibilities.

For example, one of the questions I have seen posed to executives is, “What are your practices for de-stressing after a long day of business?” A question like this, while it encourages them to reflect, doesn’t push them to expand beyond their current boundaries of thought. In this instance, it is asking them to relive and recount the patterns they are already practicing, not make room for new ones.

To become better leaders, we must instead consider questions that invite us to take a larger perspective. In essence, instead of asking, “what am I practicing?” we should be asking, “what is practicing me?” This invites us to consider not just what we are doing, but what, both internally and externally, are the things that are influencing our actions.

For me (Dr. Tomi Bryan), when I ask myself, “what is practicing me?”, one of the things that comes to mind is my dedication to effectiveness. Now normally this isn’t a bad thing, because it allows me to tackle tasks efficiently, but there are times when that dedication and value of effectiveness can dictate my actions in not the best ways. When I become too task oriented trying to be effective, I can overlook the people side of the task.

When things aren’t run effectively, if I don’t take care to be aware, that passion for effectiveness can cause me to get frustrated and lose sight of the what’s important. That dedication “practices me.” It also can make for a lot of hurt feelings left in my wake. This means that this dedication to effectiveness has seniority over me and can run my life in some moments if I don’t pay close enough attention.

Reframing questions takes us to a different place. Instead of simply rehashing the same old, same old, reframing the question provides us with new insight and new things to work through and allows us to better manage the moment as leaders when the necessary time arises.

As you go about your day, see what is practicing you. There may be some growth edges in there to work on, and always look to see if there is a way to reframe whatever question you are entertaining.

Until we meet again, busy seeing the Champion in you.

Dr. Tomi