I met with a potential client who wanted to talk about how Conscious Project Management could improve their culture and put people back in charge of getting stuff done. The conversation took an all too familiar turn, "... but Colin, the problem with [insert company name] is that we have no leaders, no-one is setting the example."
Now, it would be very easy for me to agree with this statement and talk about the lack of visible leadership and the poor cultures that arise as a result. Even easier to then make it personal and get them to talk about an individual so we could pick apart their habits, behaviours and maybe use their age as an excuse.
We could then have talked about other people in other organisations or in public office about the lack of respect that they haveÂ as you hear in coffee shops, bars, network events and client functions around the world almost on a daily basis.
But, I'm not that guy anymore and haven't been for about six years now. It was rotting me from the inside-out. It was making me cynical, highly critical, judgmental and bitter. It gave me a reputation as someone who liked a good moan and who saw the negative long before I saw the positive (that's if I even saw the positive at all).
It might not have always been visible during the working day, but get me out of the office with a coffee, red wine or whisky in my hand and give me a name and I was on to it. And my wife was sick of it too!
So one day I looked in the mirror and asked who I was to criticise others? I had no values that I held dear or 'vision' that I was working towards and whilst I may have been ambitious I was doing it in a destructive way. I wasn't content, despite having a great work and home situation and I was constantly having conversations with myself about what I could say or do if a particular situation arose. I knew, however, that inside I wasn't a bad person, I'd just let bad cultures affect my own behaviours. Me, I'd let that happen. No-one else was responsible.
I'd been on leadership and self development courses, got my Myers Briggs Indicator and my TMS profile, but no-one had shown me that making the choice to behave differently would improve my quality of life. In short, all of these courses improved my IQ but not my EQ.
So I looked hard in the mirror and decided to change.
I threw a small amount of the bad stuff into the trash and worked hard every day to be different. I surrounded myself with like-minded people and challenged the poor behaviours that were evident in the organisations I worked in. Then I repeated that process until I got to the stage where I could look in the mirror and tell myself that I was being the best human being that I can be.
I changed from a self-centred cynic who would take people down in pursuit of a cheap laugh to someone who is kind, considerate and interested in others. I create visions and cultures that people want to be part of and I continually look for better ways to do things. I'm humble, realistic and adaptable. I take time to think, read and question the way I do things. And I listen. Properly listen so I can hear the things that aren't being said. That's when I find out about the things I need to change to continue to be a better me because despite how this blog may read I'm not the finished article and never will be.
So my answer now when someone tells that there is a problem with their leadership is 'what are you doing to demonstrate what good looks like?'
Deciding to be a more conscious leader is a start, but committing to the hard work that follows in being consistent with your behaviours is where you gain that feeling of fulfilment. The work will still get done and even better than that, people will enjoy doing it. You'll be the change that you want to see in other people and you'll receive recognition for that.
Our short lives are all about fulfilment. Why settle for anything less than that?
What will you change today to be a better you?