A Better Self

We are highly skilled at being more productive and getting things done, but what about our integrity, character, ethics, and state of being?

There’s no shortage of advice on becoming a better and more effective leader today. Social media and the business press are filled with endless articles and new books on how to get more done and be a better leader.

When we look at leadership, today’s prevailing wisdom is that leadership is all about focusing on others — inspiring, serving, and making better people of others. However, given the apparent lack of leadership today, it may be time for new questions and new thinking.

Rather than hanging onto old programming and answers from the past, we must enhance our ability to see what’s real. We live in the past when we rely on past knowledge, best practices, and more activity in the face of relentless change and disruption.

For example, for much of my career in corporate America, I prided myself on being a person of action and getting things done. I updated my to-do list perpetually throughout the day. Countless meetings resulted in even more action items and lists. Nothing got missed.

But what if I paid a little less attention to generating yet another action plan and more attention to the ways forward that were opening up in front of me? I’d definitely see more new and better ways forward, as would anyone following this advice.

In early 2020, I began an exercise to identify what had changed due to my inside-out journey. How had I and my work changed? Figure 1 highlights the key areas of change over the past ten years. The 11 shifts on the right side of figure 1 more accurately describe how I now live and work today.

For example, when I started on this inner-leader journey, one of the first opportunities I had to show up as my “real self ” versus “fitting in” was in 2012 when I wrote an article for Cutter IT Journal (renamed Amplify).

In that article, I questioned why so many companies continued to focus on Agile, Lean, CMMI, etc., with so few results to show for their efforts. Speaking out against what so many supported and advocated felt risky, and I didn’t believe the article would be published.

To my surprise, not only was the article published, it resulted in many new opportunities to work on exciting engagements and speak at conferences. 

The inner-leader journey will help you see reality more as it truly is and give you the insight, wisdom, and courage to share it with others.

It is critical for everyone today to make this shift to thrive and achieve success in a turbulent world. 

We need to recognize this perspective and become leaders who can help the current changes become real for ourselves, our families, our organizations, and our governments.