There is a proverb about ”curiosity killing a cat.” It is used to warn about the risk of unnecessary investigation or experimentation and sometimes followed by a saying but ”satisfaction brought it back.”
Curiosity is fuel to my personal energy levels. It opens the brain paths to new insights, new leanings and above all new encounters with people I do not have daily contact with. At my best I have the ability to inspire people around me. In order to be keep up with this strength I needed to get inspired myself.
Therefore I launched a personal deep dive into leadership encounters during this spring. I have had the opportunity to interview almost 25 leaders and executives from different fields, at different levels, male and female, all based in Finland though. My deep dive continues to new oceans as I want to include international encounters in the future. Please spread the word.
I had an array of questions that I had prepared. Some of the interviewees I had met before, most of them not. What did I find out? Here are some red threads I was able to gather from the responses.
- The respondents found themselves in the leadership role because of their inherent need to influence, to build something new, to innovate, to see other people grow in their roles and responsibilities, to enable the thrive among others, the deep interest in people.
- The enabling and nominating factor for being in the current role was the passion and ambition to develop as a leader and the hunger for the growth of others as well. The greatest skill and most powerful personal development tool was that of good self-awareness. Good self-awareness was seen as the foundation for great leadership.
- Self-leadership and self-awareness seemed very entangled together. Leading oneself was seemingly helpful to good self-awareness and vice versa. The importance of self-leadership had not been there without developed self-awareness. The basic needs of Maslow where the back bones for majority. Sleep, food and exercise in different forms. Nature, meditation, silence, books or car- driving alone. A few kept diaries as part of their self-leading practice on regular basis.
- The most difficult side in leadership was … people. This is also something that kept the respondents awake, if something was to keep them awake. How to handle the situation when making somebody redundant? How to handle conflicts or conflicting relationships at work? How to read silent signals and intervene timely when needed? On the other hand this was exactly the area they felt they were chosen to do and what they got paid for- to be there for the people in times of conflicts.
- The most giving part of leadership was … people! This is the part that gave most of the respondents kicks to stay and flourish in their leader roles. Seeing the other people grow, take responsibility and be encouraged. Connect diverse people and make them a thriving team.
- The epoch-making moment of the professional careers were often in a context of personal vulnerability. Being true to oneself, unarming the incompetence or any given roles attached to oneself. Being aligned, being a human, being present. This was the best part of all the interviews. Hearing true stories how people had the courage to look at themselves eye to eye, mercifully.
- The respondents- without exception- dreamt of staying healthy themselves but also including their families and friends. One of them said that dreams are current life moments, nothing exceptional nor far in the future. A few said that they are living their dreams, many hoped to be able to die happy.
- Leadership was seen very lonely at times. I felt very blessed myself during the interviews as I could feel and see how the respondents treasured the time to speak up their life stories, philosophies, ideas, concerns and …just being present for me and above all, themselves.
- Support during difficult times was important- for many it was the significant other, a mentor, a coach or simply a great supervisor & chairman. Peers in other companies, networking with like-minded and especially with those not like-minded. Getting different and fresh perspectives to life issues was seen as very important. Reminds myself of the personal decision during my life in Sweden to meet homeless at regular intervals to understand life more widely, to open a new door to personal humanity.
Nine points summarized. There is another saying that a cat has nine lives meaning the ability to survive dangerous incidents or happenings. Nine points of authentic shared leadership wisdom, hopefully you find them helpful?
The tenth bonus question:
- The advice the respondents would like to give to future leaders?
- Get to know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses.
- Be curious
- Have courage
- Work hard
- If you never fail, then you have never tried hard enough
- Humble at early stages but ready to learn new
- Help others to succeed
- Be your true self
- Live your life according to your own expectations not according to those of others!
Have a meaningful summer, live bravely and have a dive or two 😊