I worked with a brilliant CEO possessing a strong sense of purpose and a clear vision of where he wanted to take the company. He spent a lot of time and energy turning his plans into reality, acting like an all-capable Superman—flying from meeting to meeting, resolving crises, pushing his reforms through, all the while tending to clients. The result? He was running all over the map instead of defining priorities and spending time with his followers within the company.
Alignment does not happen by itself. You need a willingness to connect with who you truly are, do the work to become who you want to be, and project your authentic self to others.
Becoming aligned requires the courage to disrupt your status quo. It requires the right tools and guidance to bust through your self-imposed limitations. As an executive coach, I work with leaders to help them deal with a difficult subject: how personal hang-ups get in the way of their work.
My philosophy is simple: Anything is possible. But to make things happen within yourself, you have to understand how and why you do the things you do. You must let go of your restrictions and your old beliefs. Are they proven? Anchored in reality? Who convinced you of them in the first place? Learn to behave and think differently, align your values with your actions, and learn from past experiences. What was right yesterday may be not right tomorrow. As leading executive coach Marshall Goldsmith says, “What got you here won’t get you there.”
As I worked with the Superman CEO, I challenged him to see the connection between what he was fighting for and the importance of getting followers to fight with him. One day he admitted, “I see now—a leader does not need to constantly run around trying to save the world single-handedly.”
That insight inspired him to think and act differently. He shared his values and his visions. He spent time listening to people, in order to “save the world” with them, not despite them. This new attitude allowed him to be more aligned with himself and his work. And this new alignment fostered a spirit of belonging – and productivity multiplied!
Your life experiences are your richest field of knowledge; they differentiate you from others. Being aware of your distinctive strengths and qualities lets you understand who you are and helps you lead with authenticity.
Perhaps we don’t realize that the problems we face can arise from a personal taboo, an idea we have believed for years but never questioned. Part of my work is to understand how these long-held ideas dictate specific behaviors. This is the key to unlocking the door to see who we really are and who we want to be – to find our own alignment. We are rarely aware of our own barriers, partly because we are so used to bumping up against them.
The Superman CEO finally flew over them.