Can we help each other deal with the many challenges inherent in the psychology related to leadership performance? We can and we must. Our frequent failures as leaders to deal with our inner lives leave too many individuals and institutions in the dark. So, what can be done to work more effectively with other people?
We should lift up the value of inner work. This task and this responsibility should become a common venture in families, schools, universities, churches institutions and work organizations. The idea is to engage in some kind of process that could help us understand that inner work is as real as the outer work and involves skills like journaling, reflective reading, spiritual friendship, meditation, self-analysis and prayer; yes, I said Prayer!
We can teach our children something that we as parents did not always knew. If people skimp in their inner work or simply avoid it, their outer work will eventually suffer, and learning will occur the hard way. We should spread the word that inner work, though it is deeply a personal matter, it is not a private matter because this kind of undertaking will always have a social and collective consequence. Inner work can be helped and developed in relationship with other people or in a social context. The predicament is that doing inner work together is a vital counterpoint to doing it alone. In a proper setting we can position ourselves in ways that others can help us correct. There is always hope in good counseling, coaching and mentorship.
But how organizations offer such help is a critical design or structuring question. We are immersed in institutions based on the practice of setting each other straight, an ultimate autocratic practice bound to drive the shy soul into hiding. Fortunately, there are other models of corporate development and support.
Long time ago, and as the by-product of our reading and studying about these possibilities, we created in QBS, the Clearness Team or Unit, where you take personal and professional issues to this organizational unit who can’t simply suggest quick fixes, or giving advice but pose honest, open, hard questions to help the participant discover the meaning of his/her profound inner reality. The idea of this approach is to act communal and supportive, but not invasive. Imagine the receptivity of a method that helps people probe questions and possibility and forbids the old practice of rendering judgment, allowing counselors to serve as facilitators to a birth of consciousness that can only come from within.
When people are not driven by their own fears, the fears that lead others to suggest a quick fix or to abandon each other (the ethic of the shipwreck individual), they emerge with a kind of lifeline to humanity. The lifeline signifies the most profound form of leadership, leading a person from stalemate or problematic performance to a condition of lively, creative and energetic execution.
We should all be alert of the dominant role that fear plays in the daily life of most of the people, of all the ways that fear foreclose human potentials. It is very interesting that all of the world wisdom traditions address the fact of fear, for all of them the human struggle to overcome this ancient enemy. All of these diverse traditions unite in one exhortation to those who walk in their ways: “Be not afraid”. We had our own share of these teachings in the work of Eugenio María de Hostos alerting that “we should overcome the god of fear and only then we will be free”.
Be not afraid does not mean we cannot have fear. Everyone has fear, and people who embrace the call to leadership often find fear abounding. Thus, they make the exhortation that leaders don’t have to lead from a place of fear, and allowing a world in which fear is multiplied to be. The idea is to cope and manage effectively such a condition.
We have pockets of fear inside of us plus their cousins of suspicious, doubts and pessimism. But we also have other pockets with names like trust, hope and faith. Leaders can choose to lead from one of these pockets in order to work with a promise instead of the anxiety of what can be.