What do Gremlins have to do with Leadership? Everything!
We all have them; that inner voice that speaks to us and shapes how we behave, how we show up and how authentic we are as a person or leader. These Gremlins usually develop during our early years and are based on people who have influenced our beliefs and thinking and the environment in which we grew up in. We all have internal beliefs and assumptions that drive our behavior, our actions and our results. Recognizing we have these Gremlins, naming them and developing strategies to minimize their influence over us is one of the keys to leading authentically, building closer relationships with others, improving our leadership presence and getting better results in our leadership role.
A few years ago I was asked to come in and work with a very bright and results oriented senior executive on his communication skills and his leadership presence. When we debriefed on his 360 assessment results he shared “his story.” He came from a family with an overbearing father that required a great deal from him as a child. He was first generation to go to college and the expectations were high. I asked my client how that experience shaped his beliefs and assumptions about himself. He said, “I felt I was never good enough and had to do more in order for my father to approve of me.” This experience shaped his self-worth, how he showed up at work, how he interacted with his team and the way he communicated with others. Sharing his story with me was a huge break through for him. This bold act enabled him to finally understand what was getting in the way of his ability to lead differently. His Gremlins of shame or fear of failure and not being good enough drove his behaviors and actions. The good news was he was able to develop strategies to help him recognize and minimize his inner voice so that he could communicate differently, relate to others differently and get better results.
What are your Gremlins? We all have them! Are you paying attention to them? What are they saying to you? How do they impact how you show up and how you lead? If you want to know, here are some steps for you to find out.
- Start paying attention to your inner voice. A practice I ask my clients to do is to simply notice when your inner voice speaks to you and make a checkmark in a notebook. Do it for a two week period. My client did this exercise and at the end of two weeks he reported over 130 check marks. I asked him to continue to be aware when his Gremlins showed up but also asked him to take notes what he was feeling and how it impacted his communications and his presence. Once he saw a pattern he was able to identify strategies to combat his self talk and show up differently as a leader.
- Pick up a few resources that will help you develop the courage to be vulnerable and address your gremlins. Two that come to mind are Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly and Rick Carson’s book Taming Your Gremlin. If you’re not already familiar with Dr. Brown’s work, you should definitely check out her three TED talks on TED.com.