Leadership From The Inside Out

by Linda Feinholz · 0 comments

I received a question from one of my private coaching clients this week, asking about whether a personal profile instrument would be effective at helping her shift her attitudes and patterns.

Her goal – to become recognized as a more effective leader.

The site she referred me to had the following marvelous quotes:

Remember that “group think” begins with “leader think”. At its core, an organization strongly reflects how its leader thinks, feels, and acts.


During any typical workday, most people spend a great deal of time focusing on what’s wrong — with their family, their jobs, their projects, their colleagues, their relationships, and their lives. At work, it’s not surprising that studies show that more than 50 percent of the people in our nation’s workforce would choose, if they could, to quit their jobs.


If you don’t think of yourself as a leader, then you are limited in your thinking. Leading is the way we help move people into action, including us. The question is not whether or not we are leaders, but how well we lead.

While those quotes refer to leadership being sourced from your thinking, it’s important to understand human behavior doesn’t stop with thought. It begins there.

Leadership, indeed any behaviors need to become either deliberately selected action, or habitual action. In some ways it doesn’t matter which. It’s the constancy of the action that produces the results in others.

All those statements are very useful truisms… so back to your question about change:

Thought is pretty darned fast – we have 60,000 of them a day, mostly running on automatic like butterflies flocking and scattering amok.

So since it all starts with thought, and it’s going to required chasing down 60,000 flittering thoughts a day, change can be an exhausting or exhilarating experience. The fact is, people make changes when they value the potential results after the change more than the current state before the change.

So first comes motivation. If it’s present, there is the potential for change.

Next comes the path to change. Our conduct’s current components (thoughts, beliefs, emotions and actions) were shaped by a combination of both nurture and nature and repetitions, hundreds of thousands of them.

Change requires we rewire those components, which requires a devotion to (at a minimum) hundreds of conscious replacements of the ‘old’ with the ‘new. ANY system that focuses on all of those components can instigate change, as you would be changing the system itself.

However, there is a difference between making a temporary change, like going on vacation, eating differently, getting up later, talking to people with a different energy and tone of voice, and rebuilding your ‘system’ so that those changes become the new habits, style, overall behaviors.

William Bridges, author of Transitions, makes the distinction that “change” is external, “transformation” is internal. So becoming a more effective Leader has two paths:

  • alter your external behavior, and put systems and reminders in place to trigger those behaviors so you are consistent in those behaviors. OR
  • transform your interior in ways that automatically result in the external new behaviors automatically.

Either path requires a personal motivation to get you to make committed efforts, rather than have it be an interesting intellectual consideration that drifts off into the ether as your attention is pulled back to the daily demands of your work.

SO, the key questions you need to answer are:
1 – WHAT is the new result you want to create for yourself?
2 – WHY is that important to you?
3 – HOW will you keep yourself on track across time and the demands of work and life?
4 – HOW MUCH attention and effort are you intending to commit to internal rewiring in order to obtain the external changes?

Notice I didn’t say ‘ready’, ‘willing’ or ‘able’, I said intend. You need relentless intention to stick with the butterfly chase over time, successes and failures so you keep going.

There are hundreds of trainings and programs that will give you step by step systems for behavior. My clients and students work with me in order to make their intentions spoken, their efforts deliberate and discussed, and to have an accountability partner who celebrates the successes, commiserates and laughs about the trip ups, and helps keep the momentum of change on track.

That’s the reinforcement that keeps them reminded of their inner “Why” as they build their success.

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