February 22, 2018

Archives for February 2012

Does personal mastery make a leader inspirational?

Admiral Horatio NelsonI lately set up a new discussion group on LinkedIn called “Personal Mastery for the Inspirational Leader.” You can join the group here.

Well, that’s not the while truth. The group began as “Personal Mastery for the Resourceful Leader” then I thought… Should the word be “resourceful” or “inspirational”?

A key part of personal mastery is having the courage and strength of belief to follow an inner sense of direction, to be “in spirit.” With that in mind, the key question around the name is…

Does personal mastery make a leader inspirational?

For me the answer to that is emphatically “yes.” In fact, I notice it chokes me up to think of it like that – a sure sign of being on the right track, in my experience.

“Inspirational” does literally mean to be “in spirit.”

So I changed the title to…

“Personal Mastery for the Inspirational Leader”

But what about you…

Which word speaks to you the most and why – “resourceful” or “inspirational”?

Does “mastery” mean knowing everything or nothing?

Pile of blank paperAt first sight, mastery seems to imply knowing all there is to know about a subject. Is that ever possible though? Is any subject bounded? Or does every topic just grow and grow as we get to know it?

Often it’s resourceful to assume we know nothing in a situation, to empty our minds, and be curious. Actually, that’s not so easy to do. It’s not so easy to eliminate our assumptions and be mindful of our beliefs, which are only that, beliefs, how we interpret what we experience. Nevertheless aiming for a “know nothing state” can help us see a situation clearly and give us the best chance of an effective response.

So we’re OK with not knowing. It’s OK to realize we need to know X, but we only know Y. It’s OK to live with a gap between what we know and what we’d like to know. In fact, it’s more than OK, it’s a fundamental part of personal mastery and a vital attitude in an organization or a family that learns.

Even as we work to close the gap, of course, new horizons appear in a never-ending process of discovery.

How comfortable are you with not knowing? How well do you model that for others – colleagues, children, friends, bosses even?

Is “tribal” behavior at work in your world?

Team supportersWe all belong to clusters of people with something in common: values, beliefs, aims, norms of behavior, and more. We could call these clusters “tribes,” and in fact, we belong to lots of them—families, friendship groups, workplaces, supporters of teams, members of on-line groups, and many more. Some exist in our face-to-face world, others are less tangible but just as real.

The need to belong is part of our human wiring—a deep-seated brain function. Prehistorically, if we didn’t belong to a group, we wouldn’t survive.


People behave in particular ways because they want to belong. They want to fit in. In fact, some also want to define themselves as against something else—some other tribe. That’s psychologically comfortable, if not very resourceful.

Here’s the thing…

In many situations, tribal behavior will be a powerful force, quite likely much more powerful than the explicit authority structures.

Tread warily when intervening. If you don’t understand the tribes in the game and the tribal behavior at work, you’re heading for a rough time. Take note of it and use it for good effect and you will harness a powerful force.

What unnoticed tribal behavior might be influencing your world?

Can they see where the leverage is?

Three people talkingHe’s looking in the wrong place…

The young man before us insists a particular role will help his career. He’s frustrated that employers don’t see it that way. He goes over his qualifications and experience again.

The thing is…

What’s holding him back is something quite different. It’s how he comes across.

That’s how it is with leverage in any situation. The participants don’t see it, because if they did see it, they would have acted on it already.

When you can see what levers to pull, you’ll need some patience and commitment, because you’re highlighting something others can’t see yet.

And the leverage very often IS in the relationships between the people. It’s the place to make something different happen—and surprisingly easy with the right approach.

Whose talk are you walking?

Group of people speakingWe’re familiar with the phrase “walking the talk”—acting in accordance with what we say, being genuine and congruent—which is a vital part of relating effectively to other people.

Sometimes we might be accused of not walking the talk. I certainly have been. Our first reaction might well be some self-examination looking for where our integrity has been out. And often, we’ll come up with something where, yes, we let ourselves down.

But sometimes…

We never said the thing we’re accused of not being. We didn’t paint that picture. Maybe we’ve fallen down against the other person’s views, not our own. Now that’s something to take seriously and the feedback may be crucial.

The thing is though…

Personal authority and connection with other people comes from walking our own talk, not someone else’s.

Where might you benefit from making sure you’re consistent with yourself rather than someone else’s ideas?