Leadership Starts with Self-Leadership

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In my early morning reflections, I thought about the experiences I want to provide participants in the upcoming workshop, Mastering the CORE of Self-Leadership that is also part of our Berens CORE Facilitation Training. Self-Leadership requires self-awareness and type lenses help give us this self-awareness. But then what do you do with it? That is where the CORE practices come in.

  • Centering: Once you have the awareness of how you are naturally inclined to respond in situations and you get off track when your core needs and drives are not being met, you can engage in some centering practices to help you tap into your inner strength and get out of the stress trap.
  • Opening: Once you are centered, then you can be open to new ways to engage your strengths. Then you can also open to the contribution of others and make space for them. It takes practice as well as some fundamental shifts internally to be able to do that. These are some of what I want to provide to our learners.
  • Relating: We express the constant core of our personality in the context of relationships. For effective relationships we have to learn to step outside our unconscious operating systems and actively seek to understand and communicate with others. For years, we’ve been teaching Perspective Shifting. Now I’ve learned that there really is more to it and we need to cover practices to develop perspective taking, perspective seeking, and perspective integration for more self-leadership as well as leadership. (For more clarification, I’ve included an excerpt from the beginning of my white paper for the Integral Leadership in Action conference below.)
  • Expanding: Type awareness gives us a map for developing more fully within our type. Type development also gives us a map for transformational development where we can increase our capacities to handle the complexities of modern life as well as for more authentic, satisfying relationships.

The following is an excerpt from a paper I wrote for the Integral Leadership in Action Conference. It provides some more information about perspective taking. I think when we use typology models to develop this capacity we make a huge contribution to the world.

One of the core competencies of leadership is perspective taking, or in the words of Milton Erickson, “Meet your client at their view of the world”. Effective leadership also involves the capacity to seek out and deeply understand perspectives different from our own as well as to integrate multiple perspectives for effective decision-making. In order to be able to do this, it helps to be aware of your own perspectives as well as having a framework of understanding of the perspectives of others. In a webinar in May 2013, Zachary Stein shared the identification of these as core competencies and pointed us to a sample report where these are defined. The definitions below are the relevant portions of the reports they provide with the Lectica LDMA assessment.

Perspective Taking
The first and most critical ingredients for building the collaborative skills required for creative, innovative, and effective leadership decision-making are perspective taking and seeking. Perspective taking requires identifying key perspectives and effectively incorporating them into one’s decision-making process.

Perspective Seeking
There is a big difference between taking a perspective into account before you make a decision and learning more about that perspective as part of making a decision. When you simply take a perspective into account, you are relying on your current understanding of that perspective—it’s your perspective on that perspective. This can be perfectly fine, especially if you have spent time clarifying that perspective in the past, but in many cases simply taking a perspective deprives you of important information. When we seek or clarify perspectives, we add considerably to our understanding of a situation and are therefore more likely to make an effective decision.

Perspective Coordination
Coordinating perspectives involves bringing together two or more perspectives or viewpoints. This skill begins to develop in infancy, and can continue to develop throughout the lifespan. It begins with learning that you and I are different beings (during infancy), develops into an understanding that you and I can have different thoughts or feelings (at around age 4), and can eventually develop into the ability to resolve tensions involving multiple perspectives, including tensions between individuals and groups or even between two or more groups.

Terri O’Fallon also referenced the importance of perspective taking in stages of development. Later stages involve the capacity to take more and more perspectives. She indicated that in the beginning we are fused with our own perspectives and do not even know what they are, then we begin to see others’ perspectives, but still think our own is better. At this point the view is one of either/or, which later shifts to both/and where we can see the value in both and try to keep the best parts. Then comes the capacity to not only hold multiple perspectives, but to also be aware of own shifting among perspectives. At even later stages, the various perspectives are integrated in what she called interpenetration.

I firmly believe that the self-understanding and practices of the CORE Approach can accelerate developing the capacity for transformational development that gets us to these later stages. Not everyone needs to develop in this way, but the door needs to be open. And we definitely need leaders who can effectively deal with all the complexity and ambiguity.

I hope you join me in helping ourselves and others develop.