You need a mental thick skin to meet the barbs and scratches of life in the spotlight. At the same time, as a leader you need to have the courage to say what you mean and mean what you say. And to do this even when others don’t like it. This idea of leaders needing a rhino's skin is not mine, it belongs to a very famous lady, Eleanor Roosevelt. Keep reading to discover what it means.
All executives I talk to want to feel they are in the "better boss" category. The trick is to know better compared to what. And better judged by whom. In my ongoing quest to answer those questions I started looking at what different successful organizations considered a "better boss" was like. A report on a study Google undertook to find out what makes a boss most successful gives us a reliable measure to judge if you are a better boss or not.
We have the ability to communicate our thoughts in real time. We don’t need to plan what we’re going to say beforehand. That is great when we are brainstorming, or when there is an emergency and we need to issue a warning. It can be a problem when what we say on the spur of the moment is something we later wish we had either not said, or said differently.
Freedom is not only for Americans, but we tend to think of it as our special inheritance, fought for at a great price, and a heritage to be cherished and guarded. We are stewards of this gift. We cherish the immortal words that resonate over the centuries:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."
There are many definitions and explanations of freedom. In fact, the Supreme Court of the USA many times has had to clarify, define, and re-define what freedom means. Therefore, I’m not going to attempt here to talk about the meaning of freedom, except to say that for me, Freedom includes two very important tenants: First, the principle of free will and second, self-control.
Freedom of choice is the right you have to be a free agent in your relationships, to make your own decisions, to be free from the arbitrary authority of others, and to be able to choose how you wish to use your services or property rather than to be subject to coercion by others.
Freedom of choice means you are able to choose you own course of action and your own pattern of living, subject to the requirement that you shall not act so as to violate the freedom of choice of others.
Although in a free society, each and every person has legal control (or "ownership") of their own body and mind, this is only possible if they exercise self-control. This is the freedom to be responsible. When the Athenians started to wish mostly for freedom from responsibility, they ceased to be free.
Edmund Burke was an Anglo-Irish statesman, author, orator, political theorist, and philosopher who served for many years in the British House of Commons. He supported the American colonies in their dispute with King George III and Great Britain that led to the American Revolution. Burke said: “It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.” The lesson for today is the need to remember that the less inner control you have, the more external fetters will hold you down.
How can you bring more freedom into life and work?
Freedom is the feeling you get when you realize that it is all within your control. True freedom - the kind that courses through your body and helps your spirit soar, the kind that makes you peaceful and happy, the kind that overwhelms you with gratitude - comes from within. It’s when YOU decide to do something worthwhile, or to let something go. It’s an internal job. I want to propose 5 ways you can bring more freedom into your life and work:
You are ultimately responsible for your own development and actions. If you truly want to be free, nothing can stop you. But it has to begin with intention and purpose. Intention has to do with what you wish to accomplish. It comes from your soul. You can choose to affirm and celebrate or to debunk and destroy. The choice is yours alone.
Nobody can make you do what you don’t want to do. You don’t have to fit in, to please, or to be popular. But if you want more freedom, you do have to have a clear intention to keep your integrity. You hold the pen to the story you write with your life! You can transform an environment of negativity, suffering, and constrains into healing, empowerment, and awareness, where the seeds of freedom can blossom.
What you don’t focus on has a way of sleeping through your fingers and getting lost. Our attention is one the most powerful things we possess. What you pay attention to is what you become conscious of, and what you reinforce. What you pay attention to will shape your attitude and how you respond to situations and decisions that shape your life and work.
If you are paying attention, no one can make you angry or envious or unhappy. You can't change what life or people throw at you. But you can always choose how to respond to a given situation. Life is constantly changing. Each moment requires a new look and a new response. Give attention to everything happening around you in a given moment and you will have the liberty to decide how to respond.
You need to take time to reflect on the thoughts and emotions that arise in you through the course of your day. Reflect on what helped you with your intentions, and what hindered you, what you focused your attention on and how it affected you. How you exercised your freedom and how you helped or hindered the freedom of others. True liberty can only can be achieved through reflection and reflective choice of action.
The reason July 4, 1776, has come to be regarded as one of the greatest days in history wasn't because it was proposed to establish a new nation. It was a great day because it was proposed to establish a nation on new principles. It was not a completely novel idea. Thomas Jefferson admitted that the ideas contained in the Declaration of Independence had been commonly expressed throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Americans continually strive for freedom, liberty and equality. Those words inspire the hope of endless possibilities for all Americans. The Declaration of Independence, as the primary document that built this great nation, is not only a vision statement for the country. It also provides a model of how inspiration received from many sources can generate ideals and action. It also continues to be a source of inspiration.
As a leader, you need sources of inspiration. You also need to become a source that inspires others to strive for freedom, both individually, and collectively.
Wanting to be free more than anything else is not a feeling; it’s an action. It is a conscious position you take in relationship to every choice you make in life. There's freedom in action only when you choose to act. You have no freedom when you allow things to happen to you. It’s not so much what you talk about but what you DO that makes a difference.
When I coach people undergoing transitions, or designing their future development, I encourage them to reflect, be intentional and imaginative. But above all I encourage them to take specific action that focusses on possibilities and doable solutions.
As a leader you have to have enough trust in yourself to act on your convictions about freedom and to ask others to do the same.
Remember. . .
Liberty is precious. The concrete actions you take everyday to preserve it make a difference. Take time everyday to clarify your intention, decide to give attention, use reflection as a way to know where you are and what you need to do, look for inspiration, and plan for concrete action that encourages and ensures freedom in your personal and work life.
A couple of questions for you: What will it take for you to lead a free life? As a leader, how can you encourage freedom of choice and freedom to be responsible? We will love to hear your answers in the comments below!
I can help you plan and achieve the growth your deserve. I can show you how to find the freedom to plan your best path for development and change. To find out more about conversational executive coaching, simply click here.
Freedom centered leadership is inclusive, encourages openness, self-discipline, humbleness, discipline, and selflessness. It’s ethical, promotes dialogue and collaboration and opens a space that is free of fear. All of which leads to joy, creativity, and innovation. We need today leaders who dare to be freedom-centered, not fear-based, in their leadership.