A friend of mine is a fun-loving guy, or he used to be. He is leading an organization well. It is growing and pursuing its mission. As the organization grew he wanted to grow also. He sought help to become the leader he thought the organization needed. He knew for the organization to grow and evolve; he would need to be a different leader.

What happened is too common in leadership positions. My friend entered into a time of growth with a consultant and came out a different person, he actually became like the consultant. Gone is the fun-loving guy that cared deeply for others. Gone was the man who had time for other leaders and directors in the organization. In his place is a man who rarely laughs with his people, constructed are the walls, barriers, and guards so he can do ‘the work’.

Instead of becoming a different leader, he became a different person. I understand doing ‘the work’ and there are times leaders need time to reflect, plan, think, vision, etc. But to lose yourself in the process of growth is something that does not sit right with me. My friend and I have talked only a handful of times in five years. He seems lonely, unhappy. Is the organization growing? Yes, sort of. Numbers are good, but the people are different too

I tried to share this with him, but he was not interested. He lost himself in the rigidity of a ‘do it like this’ system that allowed for no wavering from the curriculum. He lost himself to become a mini-consultant. A clone that did not fit his personality, temperament, or his people skills.

When I started my coaching and workshop practice, I knew I did not want to create a system or program with a ‘do it like this and do not waver’ structure that created clones of me. Instead, I wanted to develop some principles that allowed leaders to be themselves as they grew in their life and leadership. 

Principles offer guidance while still pushing you to be your best you. The opportunity to put your life into the mix of learning and growth. Principles do not create rigid guidelines that force you into a box. Instead, principles allow you to be you, while growing into the person you are called to be while leading yourself and others.

I talked in the previous post about self-leadership, because that’s where I believe we have to start. We should not lead others if we cannot lead ourselves well. I have shared these four principles in workshops, individual coaching, and in Leadership Development Roundtables (Where leaders from different sectors gather to learn, share, and challenge each other while understanding how the 4 Principles can work in their life.).

The four principles are:

Belief – Confidence in Self.

Ownership – Absolute Responsibility.

Resilience – Emerging strong from adversity.

Discipline – Developing Personal Will.

I also believe there is an Inner & Outer work of leadership each of us experiences. Something like the Yin and Yang so that the whole is better than the parts. The Inner work of leadership is how you learn, grow, and lead. The Outer work of leadership is how you serve others.

In each of the next four weeks, I will write about each principle. I’ll share stories, and illustrations that will move you in the direction of leading with the 4 Principles. Start with yourself. The Inner work of leadership is something only you can do. Start there, and never stop developing the leader you will become.