Discovering Leadership from the Inside – a Story from the Field

Rachel is a bright executive. She moved swiftly up the corporate ladder and was given responsibility for a large division in her company. She relocated and quickly adapted. Yet, for a few months Rachel continued to struggle. She hadn’t been able to communicate effectively with a key manager. He’s a talented manager and she tried a number of approaches but simply couldn’t get through to him.

When we spoke about her struggle it became clear to Rachel that it was not the manager she was struggling with. It was herself. “It’s my own internal sense of clarity and direction that I am having difficulty finding. My ineffectiveness with this manager is just a by-product. It’s not about him, it’s about me.”

The lights turned on for her when she realized this and proceeded to articulate that what she faced was not ‘doing’ things differently, rather it was finding a new, more powerful sense of ‘being’. It was not a technique to be found on the outside – it was a new knowledge of self, inside her, that she was looking for.

I challenged Rachel to clarify and reach for the things that were absolutely essential for – her core values and vision for herself. She came back with a tremendous sense of self-discovery, liberation and strength. Rachel then knew that she had released a powerful essence within herself. She had found a more authentic voice and the results were thrilling.

In the weeks following her retreat experience, Rachel was cruising at a different altitude. Her focus and enhanced effectiveness surprised even her. “It’s as though I have new amperage about me and there is a kind of grace and joy that accompanies all that I do. My communication is clearer and more confident. It is not an act. I have a compelling inner sense of what is important, of my values and of what I cannot compromise. People respond to me differently. I was able to find powerful new clarity with the manager I had struggled with. I haven’t really changed a lot of what I say; it’s that I am able to come out from a different place. The conviction and the energy come from the inside and people can’t help but notice.”

Like Rachel, many executives live a fast-paced life. They live a life of action with very little time for reflection. They are so tuned in to outside demands that they no longer hear their personal intuition from the inside. They spend their time chasing what works but are disconnected and displaced from what matters. That's why more and more leading companies have come to the conclusion that the question is not: Can I afford to send my team on a retreat? – but rather: Can I afford not to?

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