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You’re a Tool — Redefining Leadership

May 4, 2018 | Abbey Johnston

You’re a tool.

And we are not talking about the proverbial cog-in-the-wheel. You are a unique blend of skills, values, abilities and traits. In the world of leadership, the most important and valuable resource is the self. You alone have access to your inherent potential and power. Who you are is how you lead.

Yet, leadership development initiatives have historically been singularly focused on an outside perspective – the “how” and “what” rather than the “who” of leadership. This approach simply layers on proficiencies and focuses on skill-building while the authentic strengths you embody are buried. When focusing solely on skills, the focus is shifted from you, the leader, to the tasks at hand. This approach is a futile attempt at change without long term results. This approach treats symptoms of poor leadership rather than inspiring the cause of great leadership. Who you are determines how you lead.

Here is where I need to stop and say emphatically: What you do as a leader is essential to being a good leader. Finely tuned and intentional leadership skills are vital to effective leadership. Vital. I am not suggesting that who you are is more important than how you lead – I am calling attention to the direct relationship between the two.

Who you are as a leader drives how you perform as a leader. The two are inextricably linked. Both are vital. However, the “who” of leadership has historically been ignored when both elements are necessary for transformative development.

Redefining leadership through specific and intentional focus on the inner landscape of the individual (strengths, weaknesses, biases, meaning-making systems, values, etc.) is crucial for innovation of organizations, companies and cultures.

It can be difficult to recognize your own strengths and abilities because they seem “normal” and unremarkable. Creating transformation in the inner-landscape of leaders happens most effectively through relationship with key people who are witnessing your potential, offering vital feedback, and helping you unpack these internal elements of your identity. Diving into the complexity of who you are allows these various elements to be used in service of and not against your leadership effectiveness. We can’t use or change something we don’t realize is there.

This growing awareness of your unique capacity unleashes a new realm of operating, full of choice and opportunity.

Developing the potential of leaders with specific attention on social influence – who you are and how you show up in the world ­– sends rippling effects of change and transformation to all individuals, teams and organizations to which the leader is connected. This way of redefining leadership is the most effective, and possibly the only, way to create lasting transformation within any corporate culture.

You are not just “a” tool. You are the tool.

Abbey Johnston is co-founder of AG Collaborative, unlocking inherent potential and unleashing leaders to transform teams, maximize results & create vibrant cultures.