The 4 Dimensional Leader
I hope many of you have taken the time to reflect on your story and discover what themes and patterns emerged that validates why you behave the way you do. Telling your story is one of the first steps to greater self-awareness. Check it out here.
Leading is demanding. Life is demanding. We are pulled in a lot of directions. We have a to-do list a mile long. Change is constant. We have lots of distractions. It is no wonder that many of us react and respond to situations and others as if we are on auto-pilot. For example, I was working with a leader who would get interrupted a lot by his direct reports. Part of his story confirmed his behavior of wanting to please everyone. His direct reports would often come to him and ask for his thoughts and opinions of issues they were dealing with. He would normally respond by saying “come on in and let’s discuss what is on your mind.” As I was shadowing him at the office, this was a common scene. He would often leave the office at night feeling good about how he helped others, but tired and frustrated that he did not accomplish what was important to him. He was responding to his direct reports requests as if he was on auto-pilot. Many of us react this way and the only way to break this cycle is to become more mindful and aware of how we are showing up, becoming more self-aware of what are we doing and how are we behaving and why.
A framework I use to help leaders become more self-aware is the framework of a four (4) dimensional leader. This framework created by my good friend and business associate, Rob McKinnon, outlines the four domains of your essence and presence which show up all the time. They represent your PHYSICAL, INTELLECTUAL, EMOTIONAL and SPIRITUAL aspects of who you are as a person and leader.
The Physical domain is focused on your body. It’s your body language, how you walk into a room and how are you breathing. Leaders need to know how they are doing physically. Do they feel tired, sick, hungry? They need to be aware of their facial expressions, what they are doing with their hands and their eyes. When others look at them what are they seeing? Self-aware leaders need to be acutely aware of their physical presence and how it makes them feel and how others are responding to their physicality.
The Intellectual domain is focused on your brain. What is foremost on your mind? What are you thinking about before entering a meeting, about other persons you are engaged with, how are you thinking about yourself? Are you thinking negative or positive thoughts? How do you process your thoughts? How are others reacting to your thinking? Self-aware leaders need to be aware of what they are thinking and how it impacts self and others.
The Emotional domain is focused on your feelings. Feelings are typically what most people don’t want to talk about because it is deemed too soft and vulnerable. Who cares about feelings anyway? You should! Feelings drive what you think, your actions and behavior. We have learned at a young age to either express or suppress our feelings. Most of us suppress them. Leaders need be aware what emotion they are feeling. There are four primary and one secondary emotions. The four primary have been hard wired since birth (Glad, Sad, Mad and Scared). They drive everything. Self-aware leaders notice when they are ignoring their feelings; they are aware how their emotions change during interactions with others; they are aware when they let their emotions show; and they know how their emotions affect their thinking.
I recommend a great little book called The Little Book of Big Emotions by Erika Hunter. This little gem will outline how five feelings/emotions affect everything you do and don’t do.
Finally, the Spiritual domain is your identity. I call it your True North. It is your character and how you identify yourself in this world. Do you identify yourself based on external influences or from within? Self-aware leaders know what their key values are and how they play a part in everything they do. They know who they are and are comfortable in their skin. This enables their authentic self to be revealed at all times.
This is not easy work. It takes discipline and hard work and an honest assessment of yourself. Do this work and, I promise you, you will increase your self-awareness of these four domains and it will help you to become the leader you want to be.