In this series of articles, I introduce the concept of self-empowerment. The concept comes from the book “Self-Empowered Leadership”, which I wrote together with Jens Bergstein and Felicitas Ritter. At its core, self-empowerment means to be in the driver’s seat: You decide pro-actively who you are as a leader and how you relate to critical leadership situations. In short: Get out of the hamster wheel! Part 2 is about the basics and levers of self-empowerment or the desire to lead.
THE BASICS: INSIDE AND OUTSIDE
You can only lead if you remain true to yourself whilst also relevant to your leadership situation. This means that you combine your own goals, desires and needs (= inside) and the leadership requirements of the situation (= outside). You do this actively; you are in the driver’s seat and take responsibility for yourself and others. That’s why you can easily distinguish between two different characters: interior types and exterior types.
Exterior types strongly focus on the requirements of their superiors, colleagues, employees, or of the situation. However, they are less aware of their own needs and interests, and therefore line up at the back of the queue. This is quite positive from the point of view of their environment, as external types manage to moderate the different stakeholder perspectives in regard to finding unanimously agreeable solutions. At the same time, this leads to a feeling of emptiness and exhaustion within themselves. You need regular time-outs without external demands to find the way back to yourself.
On the other hand, interior types have a clear inner compass. They shape their environment to achieve their own goals. This makes them appear successful in the eyes of others. They, too, derive satisfaction from their success, however, they are extremely afraid of failing. That’s why they want to assert themselves and their ideas by all means to win. They are sometimes criticized by their superiors because they solve the tasks assigned to them at their own discretion rather than in the interests of the organization. In addition, their employees and colleagues can often feel that they do not respect their opinions and ideas, which can have a demotivating effect. Interior types themselves, on the other hand, often have the feeling that they must cope with tasks alone and must constantly fight for acceptance and appreciation by others.
Good leadership therefore always deals with both aspects, inside and outside.
THE LEVERS: HEAD, BODY, AND HAND
The guiding levers head, body, and hand help us to fully embody our leadership aspiration which ultimately leads to more success. While we are used to approaching leadership situations rationally with our heads (= logic), hand (= behavior) and above all, body (=emotions), we have so far neglected in leadership development. Above all, our body and our emotionality are a dimension that is of extremely important for leadership. Without the integration of our body into our leadership decisions, our leadership becomes emotionless and insignificant for ourselves.
For example, for exterior types, the leadership lever ‘body’ implies first developing a clear awareness of their own goals, needs, resources, and potential. That’s the starting point to explore who they are as leaders and what they want to embody. Interior types, on the other hand, can learn to deal with the perspectives and expectations of those around them. This happens on an intellectual level. From here, they can increase their awareness of their own emotions, and also those of those around them. It is also important for interior types to be able to empathize. Many studies show that we can recognize the emotions of others because we automatically imitate the facial expression and posture of our those around us. This happens subliminally, so that we do not consciously perceive this mechanism. By imitating, we can feel the emotion in our own body and recognize how the other person feels. By connecting with their own body, interior types can put themselves in the shoes of their fellow human beings much more clearly.
In the end, for both exterior and interior types, it is a matter of developing new behaviors and practices with which they embody their leadership vision on all three levels and thus make it tangible for themselves and others. Good leadership therefore means looking at people holistically on the three levels of head, body, and hand.
Finally, the third and final part of the series of articles is about practical steps to empower yourself. You can find even more information about self-empowerment here: www.sel-workbook.de.