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CEO, Transform Thyself

by Joanna Barsh on June 10, 2010


joanna-barsh's picture

CEO, Transform Thyself

A few months ago, in one of our Centered Leadership learning sessions, a Latin American executive approached me with an insight that had deeply affected him. “In our transformation meetings,” he said, “we always talk about how they have to change. I realize I have to change myself first if I want them to change. Why should they change? They have to see me changed. But we haven’t done that because we spend all our time talking about them.”

Self-awareness is one of the three elements that makes Centered Leadership a distinctive approach for leaders who face large scale change challenges.  The self-aware leader can recognize his own emotions—positive and negative—and he knows the triggers for when he is hijacked by them. He recognizes his own sources of meaning, and how to use them as fuel. He explicitly designs his network and he watches his sources and uses of energy, recognizing how much energy it takes to catalyze an organization.

Are you self-aware? Try these questions on yourself or on your team and let us know the results:

  1. If you had nothing to prove to anyone and no constraints, what would you be doing right now?
  2. What are your core strengths—the strengths you had as a child that gave you energy and that you still have? How often do you deploy them today?
  3. What is your normal response when adversity strikes? Are you regularly able to see the opportunity in the moment?
  4. Who are the people around you in your personal development network? Did you forge those relationships on purpose? Who sponsors you and how would you characterize those interactions?
  5. What is it that you would really want to see happen in your current leadership role? How far from your comfort zone are you, in terms of stress, scariness, and exhilaration?
  6. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest, how energized are you on an average workday in terms of your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energy?

We don’t promise that you can break wood with your bare hands, or strike down your opponents with a laser and the force, but self-awareness permits self-mastery, and that leads to an ability to adapt, to connect, to engage, and to inspire.

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eric-schillinger's picture
Hi Joanna:

Excellent article on leadership.  Do you have any written/hard copy material on the Centered Leadership global video interviews with women leaders?  I would be interested in reading
whatever you can send me. 
I found IBMs recent report, on 1541 interviewes with CEOs around the world, very interesting
and highly applicable to today's business environment.

Looking forward to speaking with you,

Eric Schillinger

dan-simpson's picture
Very interesteing that you describe "core strengths" as "the strengths you had as a child that gave you energy and that you still have."
When I think about my core liabilities (as such) I do see a connection all the way back to my childhood, but when I think about core strengths, that connection is much less clear to me. 
Should I be thinking about core strengths as underlying personality characteristics?