The Idea: At this year’s Elevation Summit, Walgreen’s Beth Stiller dropped a bomb on the audience when she said, “Where you came from has made you the leader you’ve become.” She went further sharing, “Your personal story defines how you lead.” Half the room looked away in a moment of personal reflection. Have you done the work to better understand how past failures, successes, moments of insecurity and loss have framed your leadership style? Better yet, are you strong enough to go there?
Your personal struggle is where your story is birthed. It defines you. Former Medtronic CEO, author and Harvard professor, Bill George, believes when you understand your own “true north” you have the potential to leave a legacy with others. George believes leaders who are effective have found their genuine voice, and are not afraid to show themselves to others. They are not afraid to be known.
The authentic ones don’t just manage people, they manage promises. And they guard their promises.
Leaders must review their past journey to better understand how they are affecting people today. Often times, the past is filled with successes and failures that we choose to forget or put on the shelf. Unpacking these moments are essential to understanding the leadership behaviors you bring to an organization. Getting to the root of some of your biggest successes and failures (or personal losses) takes you back to the moment when your style was birthed.
Walking “true north” in your authentic self is the beginning of leadership effectiveness. George argues that having the confidence to be you is the most important step you will ever take. Vulnerability is authentic and infectious. Strong personal communication, organizational effectiveness and attracting talent are a bi-product of walking in your genuine identity. When you walk in truth, people trust you. You are genuine. And being genuine is attractive.
Walgreen’s Stiller reminded me, “When you share your story” – both the wonder and the warts – you allow others the freedom to share their own story, creating community and teamwork. To lead today we must all embrace being honest, empathic and willing to share from the heart.
What is your story and are you courageous enough to share with others? Your personal story (warts and all) is what makes you distinct.
What is stopping you?