Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Mastering Leadership

Wow, how time flies.  It's been about a month since I posted last, but what a way to come back, with a guest
from Bob Anderson and Bill Adams.  Their new book Mastering Leadership, was released yesterday.  You should definitely pick one up.  I'm sure you won't regret it.

From Taxi Team to Team Captain
The most powerful beliefs are the beliefs and internal assumptions by which we establish our identity. These powerful self-defining beliefs get incorporated into the core of our IOS throughout our life from emotionally powerful, positive, or painful experience. They also are installed by important people in our lives—parents, teachers, coaches, bosses, mentors, political leaders—and by institutional, national, and cultural affiliations. As we adopt these assumptions, we live by them and reinforce them. The brain puts them on autopilot so that we do not have to think about them anymore. They are just seen as true.

Bob: One of my deeply embedded assumptions is that I must be perfectly successful in order to be okay. I come by this belief honestly, and most of the experience that created this belief was positive. For example, when I was 13, I tried out for the football team. I had never played football, and most of the guys on the team had been playing for a few years. I did not know that you needed to work hard to get noticed by the coaches, so I stood patiently on the sidelines waiting to be put on the practice field. As such, I was not seen as a player. Since the coaches did not have the heart to cut me, I ended up on the “Taxi Squad.” The few of us on this squad practiced together on another field. The real team had eight male coaches. We had Mrs. Dixon, a nice lady who knew nothing about football.

At this time, I was not moving in the circles in which I wanted to move. The cool kids were on the football team, and as long as I was on this Taxi Squad, I had little chance of getting accepted into their group. To make matters worse, all the cheerleaders practiced near where the team practiced, and I did not have their attention either. I was a nobody.
One day, Mrs. Dixon did not show up and the coaches were forced to allow the Taxi Squad to practice with the team. What happened that day changed my life. I was playing left defensive tackle and after a play in which I must have done something right, one of the coaches picked me up, lifted me up above his head and screamed into my face, “That was great! Do that again.”

I was so unaware of what I just did that I asked him what I had done.

He took a personal interest in me for the rest of the practice. He taught me how to play that position. Soon, I was wreaking havoc on the offense. That week I went from Taxi Squad to captain of the team. I started on offense and defense for the rest of the season. I also moved into the center of the boys with whom I wanted to be friends. I even piqued the interest of the cheerleaders. I went from nobody to somebody in one practice.

I learned that day that I am somebody if I am first string, captain of the team. I learned that I had to be the best, first string or else I would be a nobody.

This story illustrates how the driven nature of my personality began to form. I could tell other stories about how this drive was refined into the need to be flawless at everything I did. So, I entered adult life believing that my worth and self-esteem, the success and security of my future, depended utterly on being flawlessly successful all the time.

Of course, I assumed I would be a good mentor; however, that was not the case. My perfectionist standards and fear of failure combined to make me inept at letting go to others so that they might learn. What made this so difficult for me was that I had to let go when we were working with key clients. I did not do this gracefully. Every time one of my colleagues was not performing well enough, I became terrified that I would lose the client. Consequently, I took over the session and later pointed out all the ways my colleague could have done better. This approach so undermined their confidence that no one could learn from me, and I was failing to scale the business.

My perfectionism and need to be successful had me. I did not have them. I did not start to face this belief until after two years of failing to scale the business. Once I saw how I was the problem, as I dropped into this belief structure to see its illusion, and as I began to see my fear-driven perfectionism as resulting from another irrational belief, I began to mentor more effectively and the business began to scale nicely.

These beliefs form the core of the Reactive operating system—the mechanisms by which we form our externally validated identity. Because we need to be seen by others as X, our self-esteem, security, and future are in their hands. They make us up. How they see us defines us. We depend on external validation, living within the confines of a Socialized Self, as the Self-Authoring, Creative Self lives beyond the bounds of these Reactive beliefs. We tend to oscillate and return to normal as we react to meet the expectations of these beliefs. This is how Reactive Mind is structured and, since structure determines performance, how it performs.


Excerpted from Mastering Leadership: An Integrated Framework for Breakthrough Performance and Extraordinary Business Results, by Robert J. Anderson and William A. Adams (Wiley, 2015)

Bob Anderson is Chairman and Chief Development Officer and Bill Adams is CEO of The Leadership Circle and the Full Circle Group. They are coauthors of Mastering Leadership (Wiley). Visit www.fcg-global.com or http://www.theleadershipcircle.com.