Listening to the Leader Within You

Leaders are change makers. However, to change the world, they first must shift the inner place from where they operate to a deeper state of awareness.

Leaders are change makers. They bring into reality the future they envision for themselves and society and transform the world. However, to change the world, they first must shift the inner place from where they operate. Bill O’Brien, who’d served as CEO of Hanover Insurance, once said:

“The success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervenor” – Bill O’Brien, former CEO of Hanover Insurance

In the book Theory U: Leading from the Future as It Emerges, Otto Scharmer explains how we can become better leaders by tapping into our deep sources of curiosity, compassion, and courage. This deeper state of leadership potential is achieved when we can suspend the voice of judgment, cynicism, and fear, opening up to the future that emerges in front of us. Otto calls this state “Presencing” which is a blended word combining “sensing” (feeling the future possibility) and “presence” (the state of being in the present moment).

Often, we see the world through the lenses of our past experiences, that is, we just hear and see facts that reinforce our existing beliefs (Voice of Judgement). Even when we look at external circumstances, we often act as if those things don’t apply to our current situation or we are unable to see how something that initially seems wrong to us might be right in someone else’s reality (Voice of Cynicism). Lastly, even if we can see the need for change, we feel afraid to let go of familiar behaviour and move forward (Voice of Fear).
The figure below shows the four levels of attention to reality and how we can get more in-depth on such levels moving from within the borders of our ego to the whole (eco).

Becoming a Great leader
Adapted from Scharmer, C. O. (2009)

Achieving such deep state of attention to the world that emerges around us might be difficult. However here are a few simple questions that you can ask yourself before difficult or challenging moments that will help you get to the state of Presencing:

1) What results do I want to create? Am I acting within my comfort zone?
2) Am I aware of other possibilities beyond my initial thoughts? Have I let go of control?
3) How other people in this situation feel and think? Am I considering the common good?
4) What would I do in this case if I had more courage than I have now? Am I moving forward regardless of the consequences?

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