In many of the leadership courses I teach, I talk a lot about the difference between the being and the doing of leadership.  The doing is the day-to-day stuff we get caught up in.  It’s the systems or process, tools or models that we look to for guidance.  And being the task and accomplishment-oriented humans that we are, we often focus more on the doing side rather than the being.

As a leadership trainer I often hear this question:  “What do I do when I need to x?”  X could be giving difficult feedback, a tough performance conversation, realigning expectations, inspiring and empowering my team to deliver, the list goes on and on. 

And there are several tools and techniques out there that give advice on what to do relative to these challenges.  Tools and techniques are helpful and I’m not underestimating the value they can add.  But a participant of mine summed it up very well the other day when she said:

“There’s no checklist for leadership.  And people can see straight through you when you’re just going through the motions.”

She’s right by the way.  People ultimately respond to who you are being in that moment versus what you are doing or saying.  We have this uncanny knack to sense when someone’s intentions aren’t aligned with their actions, or they’re saying the so called “right” thing to manipulate or control. 

So the leadership coaching question for today is, Who do you want to be as a leader?

Who do you want to be as a leader?

I often have clients write a leadership purpose statement.  A lot of times folks struggle with this, and I accept the fact that it can feel awkward.  But I’ve often mused that a mindful life is an intentional life.  So why should your leadership be any different?

Step 1: What’s my personal purpose?

One way to go about this is to have a think about your own personal purpose first.  This includes questions like:

  • What do I love?
  • What does the world need?
  • What am I good at?
  • What can I prosper at?

Maybe there is something that ticks all these boxes for you, or maybe some of the above.  There may be several things that you love, but you may not necessarily be able to prosper at them.  Perhaps you honor that by pursuing a hobby or volunteering your time to a cause you are super passionate about.  There’s no right or wrong way of responding to these prompts.  The key is to have a think about them and see what comes up.  See where you may be able to find the intersections.

Step 2: What goals do I have for my leadership?

And then link this to the act of leading by asking yourself: 

  • What goals and aspirations do I have around my own leadership? 
  • How do I want others to experience me as a leader?
  • How would I describe my leadership personal brand?

Once you’ve had a think, time to put pen to paper and create your leadership purpose statement.

Maybe your statement looks something like this:

“I’m excited to work on the challenges of climate change and that gives me a sense of personal purpose.  I want to lead my team to innovate and tackle this challenge by showing up as a leader full of curiosity and compassion.  In doing so, I will bring out the best in my team and inspire them to pursue creative solutions that will enable us to tackle the energy transition.”

Or maybe this:

“Having a safe and sustainable operation with long term growth potential gives me a sense of purpose.  As a leader I want to have an agile, adaptable and high performing team who not only think about day-to-day but also about their career and company growth.  I need to model the correct behavior to my team before I can expect them to change, and I believe all of us have the capacity to achieve this.”

There’s no right or wrong with this exercise, it’s ultimately what resonates with you.  And the beautiful thing about this statement is it’s a living one.  Revisit it from time to time.  Share it with your team and ask for their feedback on how they see you showing up.  Is this how you see me?  Enrolling your team in your journey of leadership is a way to build trust and psychological safety with your team.  You may even inspire them to write a purpose statement of their own. 

Shelley Pernot is a leadership coach who is passionate about helping her clients discover their strengths and talents and step into their greatness.  Reach out to me here

for a free consultation to learn more about the coaching process and how it may benefit you!