How leaders who succeed take their attention off themselves

Sarah recalls panicking about putting herself forward when she arrived in Australia decades ago. For many years she saw herself as an impostor, telling herself, “I am not perfect yet.” She now understands she was in the grip of perfectionism, overthinking even the smallest of problems and spinning her wheels, not completing projects because whatever she accomplished did not satisfy her. She drove her team crazy micromanaging them. Her own health was suffering as she carried the weight of so many problems on her shoulders, with never enough time to do them justice.

But as part of her coaching program, she decided to put the internal conversation about not being perfect and the fear of failure that went with it, to one side and start a conversation about a new style of leadership. She adopted a key principle of making others successful as part of reinventing herself. It meant bringing people along with her and getting them excited about possibilities for the future. She started a new conversation about “helping others create a new future” to help them unleash their greatness.

As with all new pledges, she needed to practice it to make it real. The fundamental practice she adopted to support her new conversation was asking questions. That took being comfortable with not knowing all the answers. She adopted the Japanese approach of Nemawashi, which loosely translates as the “informal process of quietly laying the foundation for some proposed change or project, by talking to the people concerned, gathering support and feedback.” It made an enormous impact, both on her and the people surrounding her.

Sarah’s team and stakeholders now build on her ideas about the future and own it for themselves. People are showing up around her as extraordinary leaders. Her manager acknowledges her for the impact she is having on the business and has asked her to play a lead role in creating a leadership development program for them. She feels liberated by not overthinking everything that comes her way. It has freed her up to focus on the bigger strategic issues the business faces.

🙋‍♀️ What practices have you adopted to get the best from the people surrounding you? 🙋‍♂️

Best regards, Brian