"We lead by virtue of who we are… The leader and the person are the same. As we learn to master our growth as a person, we will be on the path to mastery of Leadership From the Inside Out."
Leadership from the Inside Out is not like many leadership books. It does not offer the top five traits of a leader or the three ways to increase your leadership skills. Leadership from the Inside Out invites you to begin a journey to grow as a person so that you may also grow as a leader. While it may seem as if a leadership book suggesting personal growth is odd, based on his extensive experience of coaching leaders at LeaderSource, Kevin Cashman realized that it is difficult to separate the leader from the person. As he offered, the essence of leadership is not an external manifestations such as charisma and drive, but it comes from who one is, from one’s being.
Leadership from Inside Out assists in self-discovery and development by exploring questions on authenticity, influence, and value creation. In addressing the questions, Cashman guides you through seven mastery pathways to develop the leader within and to find the balance between leading from both the outside-in and the inside-out and to ultimately apply your full potential while being deliberate in making a difference. The pathways are interrelated to provide an ongoing dynamic journey where each path builds on the previous path.
Structure of the book: If you just read the book, you will gain insight on what it means to lead from the inside out. Yet, Leadership from the Inside provides much more than a simple read. In addition to the examples and insights from his experience in coaching leaders, Cashman has also included exercises and questions to deepen your understanding. Powerful components of the book are the reflections and the leadership growth plan at the end of each chapter. To have the transformative experience that Leadership from the Inside offers, use it as a workbook to deepen your journey through the pathways to mastery of leadership from the inside out.
Who you are is how you lead
"Leadership is not simply something we do. It comes from a deeper reality within us; it comes from our values, principles, life experiences, and essence. Leadership is a process, an intimate expression of who we are. It is our whole person in action."
It is difficult, if not impossible, to separate the leader from the person. Just as Kabat-Zinn offered in Wherever You Go, There You Are, so to is whoever we are is how we will lead. No matter how hard we try to turn on the current top leadership traits, all that we are will manifest in our leadership. Yet, the problem is not that the leader and the person are the same, the issue is that many of us do not really know who we are; many are not leading with awareness. The questions then become:
- If we are not aware of, for example, our strengths, weaknesses, values, or purpose, do we understand the impact of our leadership?
- Are we using our full potential to make a difference?
- Are we the leader we think we are?
- How effective is our leadership?
Leadership From the Inside Out offers guidance in developing our awareness, discovering our purpose, and increasing our leadership effectiveness with the seven mastery pathways: personal, purpose, change, interpersonal, being, resilience, and action. The following are two of the stepping-stones to move toward growing as a leader by growing as a person.
Leading with awareness and authenticity
"One of the ways to take this journey to a more integrate, complete understanding of ourselves is to explore deeply our personal belief system… Beliefs literally create our reality; they are the lenses or filters through with we interpret the world."
Many people have two sets of beliefs: conscious beliefs, beliefs of which are aware, and shadow beliefs, beliefs that are hidden and underneath the surface. Cashman offers that everyone has shadow beliefs; if we think we do not have them, a shadow belief may be blocking our view. Shadow beliefs are mainly a problem when we fail to acknowledge and deal with them. They start to limit our potential and our effectiveness. Cashman provided examples to determine if a shadow belief is at play. The following are two examples:
- If we constantly receive feedback that is inconsistent with our self-view
- If we emotionally overreact to situations
Revealing our beliefs start with discovery. Ask the following questions:
- What do I believe about myself?
- What do I believe about other people?
- What do I believe is my impact or influence on others?
Commit to clarifying the conscious and shadow beliefs. Start to pay attention to how your beliefs may have a positive or a negative impact on you. Reinforce the beliefs that are positive, provide opportunities, and are motivating. Finally, as Cashman suggests, remind yourself of the Personal Mastery mantra: “As you believe, so shall you lead”.
Leading on purpose
"When we look at the lives of highly effective people and value creating organizations, often there is a common theme. Their reason for being is clearer to them. This connection, sense of meaning, love for what they do often drive their success."
If we are going to “consciously make a difference” or try to understand our reason for being, we need to understand our core purpose. “Core purpose is the high performance intersection where our talents and our values come together”.
In order to determine our core purpose we first need to discover our core talents (the gifts we have to make an impact), and our core values (deeply held belief that influence and motivate our actions). To identify core talents, ask yourself a few questions:
- What can people count on me for?
- When I am working with others and we are most energized and engaged, I am contributing ___?
- When I am making a difference, my prominent talents are ____?
To discover your core values, reflect on the following questions:
- What has your life taught you about what is precious and valuable?
- What is worth risking your life for?
- ____ gives me the greatest meaning in life and work.
Once we reveal our core talents and core values, we can start to discover our core purpose, our true north. Cashman says that “with purpose, managers become leaders”. Discovering our core talent and our core purpose may require more reflection than the questions presented, yet they offer a start. The journey has just begun.