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What 'leadership systems' inform your leadership beliefs and actions?

Yesterday, during our Kind Leader Lunch and Learn, and this week, during our Kind Leader Guided Book Club session, we had great discussions about the effect that different systems have on our ideas, and our way, of leading. Each of us is the product of many systems such as:

  • Education systems

  • Religious systems

  • Political systems

  • Family systems

Often, though, we aren't conscious of those systems and the effects that they have had on us. For example, a parent in the military, where they were in a role that required them to 'bark orders', might have come home and 'barked orders' at their spouse and kids. A child growing up in that household might then assume that 'barking orders' is the way to lead people and get them to do what you want them to do. Once that child grew up, they, themselves, might 'bark orders' as well, but be totally unconscious of where those leadership ideas, and behaviors, came from.

If we, as leaders, aren't conscious of the 'systems' that have influenced our thoughts about leadership, and our behaviors and actions as leaders, we may simply be acting in ways that don't create the outcomes, and outputs that we would like them to have.

For example, if we want the people who work for us to offer ideas for new and better ways to do things, and be creative and innovative, we may, in theory, know that if they are fearful, they won't offer their ideas. However, we may not be conscious of the fact that 'barking orders' at people, leadership behavior we learned in the home, in our 'family system', is creating the conditions for fear, and leading to the opposite outcome of what we want: silence and rote compliance.

To help you see where there are gaps between how you want to lead, and current leadership behaviors, it's helpful to think about what 'leadership systems' you've been influenced by, and what specific behaviors you have now that come from those systems. An easy way to do that is to get a piece of paper and divide it into three columns:

  1. In the first column, write down the leadership systems that have influenced you, using the list above.

  2. Then, in second column, write down the behaviors that you saw and experienced from leaders in each of those systems.

  3. Finally, in the third column, write a list of your own leadership behaviors.

Once that is done, ask yourself if each of your leadership behaviors is 'leading others' to the outcomes and outputs that you would like in a kind way. If it is, then you can keep it. If it's not, then you can work deliberately to change it to something kinder.

All of us have beliefs that result from being influenced by different types of systems. And we, through our actions, are part of systems that influence others. So please remember, that to change outcomes for the better and kinder, we need to change those systems! Being conscious of the systems, their effects and our actions is a great first step.


If you'd like to do more exercises like this in a kind, supportive community, please join our Spring Kind Leader Guided Book Club Community! It starts on March 31st! Learn more here!

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