“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” ― C.G. Jung
Outstanding leaders have both a reservoir of empathy and the ability to motivate themselves and others. How do they do it? They understand human nature.
To start, they become a student of their own attitudes, desires, and behaviors. An accurate self-examination awakens the unconscious mind not only to understand one’s self but also the attributes and motivations of others. Leaders who understand what lies beneath the surface of human behavior will have a decided advantage not only in their relationships but also in their desired outcomes.
I CAN’T FLY
Germany 2013. A very serious and transparent moment presents itself. A common four-year-old boy who worships almost every known superhero walks out on the balcony of his condo to find and confide in his visiting grandfather. In a private and concerned tone he says, “Papa… I can’t fly.”
It took all grandpa had to keep himself from snickering. In this four-year-old moment it was important to keep the context alive. Grandpa had to keep his composure because this was a serious and disappointing discovery. Both empathy and perspective were needed.
BUT BOY CAN I RUN!
Empathy acknowledges not only the situation but also the underlining emotion. In this case, it was disappointment and a strike against self-esteem. Though the existence of Santa Claus was not in doubt, becoming a flying super-hero was in serious jeopardy.
After a short conversation, the inability to fly was acknowledged and mourned for the thirty seconds it deserved. Empathy had already taken root through the nutrients of listening and relating. After a few moments of peaceful silence something new had sprouted within the little boy’s soul. Disappointment was replaced by discovery! “Papa, I can’t fly but I can run real fast!”
Smiles appeared upon both the face of grandpa and grandson when Papa agreed by the nodding of his head and the fountain of his words, “Yes you can run and you can run REAL FAST!”
The point of this story is obvious. Our search for meaning and significance begins early and does not subside. Though some mask their feelings, all healthy human beings seek purpose.
IN A PERFECT WORLD
In a perfect world, leaders are holistically healthy and powerful beyond measure, lacking nothing. If not perfect, they would resemble some of our comic book superheroes. But they don’t. In real life, they come in many shapes, sizes, temperaments, and patterns of character. They are male and female, young and old. A few were reared in healthy family systems while many were raised in something less.
As you know, we do not live in a perfect world. That’s the very reason we need more good leaders. People who live by a code. A way of thinking that is balanced, fair, inspirational and purposeful. We need leaders who get things done: not just the obvious tasks at hand (yes of course – the project, the service, the profit) but also something greater. Something that makes the world – your world – a better place.
But how is all this idealism brought down to earth? How can we develop self and our teams to become better and more conscious leaders? That’s the exact question I have been asking and attempting to answer for decades.
It has driven me to create a non-academic approach to coaching people who desire to be more effective leaders. My coaching theory covers four domains: self-awareness, self-leadership, leading others, and leading healthy teams and organizations.