Authentic Leadership and Self-Acceptance

 In Podcast
Listen Now: Authentic Leadership and Self-Acceptance

In this episode, originally recorded back in 2014 (release is early 2018), Laura describes one of her most emotional experiences from early adulthood that shaped her self-concept and was the catalyst for her to look deeper into true authenticity and taught the importance of self-acceptance.

View Transcript

Intro: Happy Holidays, ya’ll! This is being released right around Christmas, and I’m so glad you’re listening – cheers to you! For this episode, I’m doing a throw-back…I started off recording podcasts back in 2014. I only recorded 2 or 3, and back then I did not follow through back then with finding a distribution channel or anything, and it fell by the wayside when I started my role at Disney. Obviously now, we’re in full force with the show, and I am just loving it. So this episode was recorded in mid 2014, and I talk about my own experience with self-awareness and self-acceptance. And one of the things that was cool for me when listening to it was some of my ideas have already shifted in the 3.5 years since I recorded this (and genuinely, I like to continuously stay open to new ideas and thoughts because I really do believe there is always a way that I can be more effective! That’s always true). So, I love to stay open. It was actually pretty neat to learn that yeah in only three and a half years I’ve shifted how I feel and think about this, this subject. Which I’ll address It when we get it in in the uh the conversation. I hope you enjoy the episode.This is me sharing with a couple people on my team about one of the most emotionally charged life situations I experienced up until that point…So without further adieu, here is that conversation…
Laura: Welcome to this episode of Unlock Your Potential, a podcast for people who want to maximize the potential of themselves and their organizations. This show will provide you with practical applications of behavioral science as well as inspire you to continuously improve, which is one of our core values here at Key Talent Solutions. I am here today with Joe Galligan and James Oglesby, both team members of Key Talent Solutions. And today we are talking about self acceptance and authentic leadership. So, hi guys!
Joe: Hi
James: Hello
Laura: Alright so, I wanted to start off by sharing a story. So, when I first started my career I was about 24 years old. I would say I was very headstrong and very opinionated. I had always thought of myself as being somebody that was a very natural leader. In high school I had always, um, grown into positions of leadership. I was a band geek and a drum major and things like that. And it always felt like the way that I had conducted myself took me into these leadership roles and I was really– it always worked. So I always felt like this works for me, I am successful. Um, I’m also somebody who’s pretty naturally left-brained. Um, so I’m logical and I, I kind of always expected other people to be logical as well. And you guys know the left-brain, right-brain differentiation, right?
James: Yes, um, the left brain deals with, um, analytics in terms of logical while the right brain would be considered creative thinking–
Laura: Right.
James: –along those lines, we’re thinking like out of bounds.
Laura: Okay, so James, do you tend to think you’re more left-brained or right-brained?
James: Um, all I know is the myth that the right hand is connected with the left brain and the left brain is connected with the right brain. So, since I’m left-handed I’ll consider myself more right-brained.
Laura: Okay. Wait, you said it’s a myth. Is it a myth or…
James: I don’t know.
Laura: I think there is actually science that suggests there’s correlation. Not an absolute by any means but, but yes. Okay, so you think you’re more right-brained.
James: Yes.
Laura: What about you, Joe?
Joe: Um, I think it’s, it’s pretty hard to decide. I find that I, uh, myself, use a mix of logic and creative thinking so I don’t, I don’t really know which one I would go with.
Laura: okay.
Joe: Is there a test for that?
Laura: There is. There is some, but I personally like the Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument. That’s what we’ve used and what’s really cool about that is it doesn’t say you’re one or the other, it actually shows you the degree to which you’re either one. So, and that’s a great, great example to bring up because when I took it I was really, really strong into the left brain side of things. So, it was also really hard for me when people weren’t logical like me. You know, I had this unfortunate idea that I’m successful, this works for me. I’m logical, why can’t you be logical, too? So, you know, now I’m in my career and, um, as somebody who works in the field of training and development, I’m a big believer in the value of doing 360 degree feedback. So this is the process where you, you select people who have some opportunity to observe your performance and they basically share their opinions about how you’re doing on those things. Typically you’re talking about leadership traits, um, or personal effectiveness, interpersonal skills. So, it’s called a 360 ’cause, theoretically, you’ve got people in leadership roles doing it and they get this chance to get feedback from people who report to them or work for them and that’s maybe something that’s relatively new, like last 20, 30 years, that’s become really popular. So, as a big believer in 360 feedback, I, I actually probably took three or four different assessments in the first seven or eight years in my career.
Laura: My opinion about 360-degree feedback assessments is actually one of the biggest shifts I have experienced. At NASA, I was the one who led the initiative to bring anonymous, 360-feedback to influence leaders at Kennedy Space Center, because I believed it was a valuable way to enhance somebody’s self-awareness. So, while it can reveal a person’s blind spots to them, I believe they are more harmful than helpful. The main reason for this is that the feedback is almost always anonymous. And the issue there is that if you give me feedback, that actually tells me more about you than it tells me about me. Because the way that you experience me is a combination of the two of us. So if I remove the source and I remove the context of the feedback, I am left with all of my own stories about what things really mean – and you’ll hear that I struggled with that a bit, as I worked to communicate with each of my raters and commit to behave differently – even though I didn’t know what changes they actually wanted me to make in order to improve our relationship. So, if you’re considering 360 degree feedback, or it is something that you already use internally inside your organization, I’d like to recommend that you, instead, consider opening up a real dialogue with people you work with – and co-create – design together, the relationship that you want to have that works well for both of you. And this is true for each person that you work with. And I believe that that’s more effective than using a tool with numbers, very little context, and no co-creation. Anyway…back to my story…
Laura: So, um, the first couple times I did this, I, I didn’t really get any feedback that jarred me or freaked me out. A couple things here and there. I thought, “Okay, I can probably work on collaborating a little bit more with people” but actually I got a lot of really positive feedback. And I thought, “Okay. What I’m doing is working. This is great.” It just kind of continued to validate this idea and make me feel really confident and really good about who I am and what I’m doing. So, somewhere about three years in I, I took another assessment and this one was a little bit different than the other ones. And it talked about influence techniques, right? Ones that we use that are effective, ones that are ineffective. So part of the assessment allowed people to indicate how often they felt I used negative influence techniques and specifically where they thought I should do more of a behavior or less of a behavior. So I had 11 people total rate me and five out of the 11 people indicated that I should be less intimidating. It’s this idea that intimidation is a negative influence technique. I mean, it sounds terrible. Most people I know don’t want to be intimidating. And so it really freaked me out. I remember reading it and, you know, just physiologically feeling upset and sort of heart racing and almost a little bit mad and where is this coming from? And there was a coach at this leadership development session and she told me later, she goes, “Oh, you should have seen your face! It was so funny!” I’m like, yeah. Well, I don’t know that I would have found it funny to see what my face looked like but that probably– it was a combination of, you know, shock and sadness and disbelief. Be less intimidating. Like, what did that even mean–
Joe: So, sorry to interrupt but–
Laura: Yeah.
Joe: –previous to this do– you don’t think that you had any, you know, inclination that you might be intimidating towards others?
Laura: No. No, I’d never thought of myself as intimidating. I certainly never used any techniques that I thought would be threatening to people. I always thought that I was reasonably friendly. Um, pretty hard-working. You know, if anything, I think some people would think, “Oh, she should come visit with us more, you know, chat more.” But no, I had no idea I was intimidating. In fact, um, at this particular leadership development session after we’d gotten the feedback, I was at lunch with somebody who had only known me a few days and he teased me about, “Yeah, I bet they told you to be less intimidating, Laura.” And I was like, “Oh, my gosh. How did you know that?” And he was like, “What? I was kidding. I picked the thing I thought would be least like you.” Um, so, yeah. I actually had a lot of indication that I wouldn’t be intimidating. So, it was really, it was really, you know, upsetting and kind of difficult. So part of that leadership class was, okay, figure out what you’re doing and come up with a plan. And so I did. I said, okay, here’s some behaviors that maybe I’m doing that could be intimidating to people and I’m gonna do it this way. And I even went back to my team and I said, “Okay guys. I’m gonna, I’m gonna try to smile more and when I ask questions I’m gonna try to explain why I’m asking them so people don’t feel like I’m interrogating–” Like I had these very specific things that I was going to do. And, um, I did that and for a couple years I really sort of focused on these different behaviors and I, I saw it working in some ways and I really started to think, “Okay. Check.” Right? Like check that box. I got this feedback and now I can, I can grow from this and I’ve got it. So, then, and this is something that’s really not so much career as it is personal life, but after feeling like I’ve created these relationships, people are open with me, they’re not intimidated by me, they can share things with me, one of my really close friends made this very conscious decision to exit my life. It wasn’t a, you know, drifting apart or falling out. It was like, you know, “Laura, I–” I mean, it wasn’t these words but it was basically like, “I don’t wanna be your friend anymore.” And it was a horrible feeling. I mean I, and it was done via email. It was just terrible. I mean I literally was sobbing. I didn’t understand this and so as confident as I had felt in really building all this stuff up, I, my gosh, my confidence took a huge hit. So after feeling like I’m constantly learning and growing and I’m successful and things are working for me, now this idea of self acceptance was at an all time low.
Joe: So, did you feel that after all this progress that you made after that 360 degree feedback, um, that this I guess hit in your personal life actually took you back a few steps?
Laura: Oh, big time. Big time. I mean, in terms of confidence in myself and my behaviors and my personality. Yeah. Way further back than I was for that 360. This was way harder for me than feedback that I should be less intimidating. Um, so, I’ll say this, right? So that’s been a couple years ago, now, and my, my self acceptance now is at a pretty good level. So, when I think back and I look and say, “Okay. So what was really different about all that and how did I get back to a place where I can accept myself after feeling so, just, low and so bad about, about me?” When I think about my approach to the 360 and being less intimidating, I took a very, I took a very left-brained approach. You know? It’s like, okay, let me identify the behaviors that are contributing to this and I will strategize and I will plan new behaviors and, you know, thinking I could just sort of take them in and out. Well, one of the things I actually didn’t’ mention before is that even though it was working for me to implement these new behaviors, it was really exhausting. As somebody who’s always been pretty extroverted, I always enjoyed being around people and I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. I found it to be very, very draining and very exhausting. I didn’t like being with people. I felt like I wanted to retreat and be alone and not feel like I had to work so hard at things.
Joe: So, in other words, it sounds like initially you found it kind of difficult to implement the feedback that you were given but also kind of be who you truly are?
Laura: Yeah. Yeah. ‘Cause that’s the thing. I wasn’t really being true to who I was. I wasn’t really being myself. I was trying to, you know, cut behaviors out and insert behaviors here and it doesn’t work like that. The puzzle pieces really don’t fit. And it was, um, it was very effortful and very, very tiring.
James: Well, I think that something important here is that these behaviors seem to be context specific. So, you’re talking about how your co-workers thought you to be intimidating but your friend, when he joked about it was very surprised at– that found out that that was the case. So it’s important to realize that how your behaviors are fitting into, like, where, where the setting is. So, if you’re socializing with friends you may act in a certain way but in a workplace, if you get more serious about what you’re doing, this is going to bring out some new sorts of attitudes and behaviors from you.
Laura: Oh, absolutely. Oh, context is so critical. Context and, and the relationship and the role that you have with people. All of that definitely plays a huge factor.
James: And I think what it should say is that just the perceptions of your friends, whatever you may be getting from this, it may not be, you know, generalizable to everything you do. So that may be something that is useful for this 360 feedback is to understand how are you being perceived by others in a place where it is most important for you.
Laura: Yes. Yes. great point. Thank you, James, for brining that up. So, so over the last couple years where I really feel like I’ve been able to evolve and have a genuine self acceptance is– a couple things are different. Right? One is that this experience where this friend made this conscious decision to exit my life, I mean that really shook me to my core. Um, so what had previously been really sort of a surface level look at behaviors, you know I think of it as, you know, the shell behaviors. Lots of people see, it’s observable. And beneath that you’ve got your feelings and your cognitions and, um, beneath that you’ve got these core beliefs and these core values. So, this experience really hit me all the way down to my core. It wasn’t just that outer shell and I’m just gonna shift the behaviors. This experience made me look really, really deep inside and really look at my fundamental values. And I remember early in my career reading a book, I read a lot of leadership books, and this one talked about his idea of how important it is to genuinely love everybody. And I just, you know, even saying that now I can feel my face kind of crinkle up a little bit like, “Really? Like, what– Okay, Gosh. Could you get any more touchy feely?” But after this experience, I really got it. I got it. It doesn’t mean that you love everything about everybody and that, oh, they’re a fantastic person even though they just, you know, threw food at me or whatever ridiculous thing it might be. But it’s this idea that, I mean, almost think about every human being as once being a baby. You know, they’re this little baby and they’re, they’re pure and they’re who they are and then they have all these experiences in life. And some people have harder lives than others and we have genetic predispositions and all these different things and we emerge and we show up to people in a certain way but thinking about who they are as an internal person. Everybody has vulnerabilities and most people have probably gone through something like what I had gone through here. Different levels, perhaps. Some things probably far more traumatic. But it– I started to really get it, this idea of really love everybody and think about what’s really important to them at their core. So, the other thing I think was really important besides this really, kind of, getting down to that core level is I really had to accept the idea that not everybody will like me, which, this is probably something you guys heard about, like, in kindergarten or first grade. Not everybody’s gonna like you. I think I probably had heard that growing up. I never really internalized it or personalized it. I was in my late 20s until I really got it. ‘Cause it was hard for me. I took it as a challenge. And I said, “I can get everyone to like me.” Well, I really can’t. I really, really can’t. And as simple as that sounds, you know, it was actually working with an executive coach that helped me to truly get over that and realize that not everything is in my control. And there are people who will not like me and I can work to a certain extent on that but not to the point where I’m not being true to myself. Because I– you know, why spend time with somebody who doesn’t want to be around you as you really are? So, I think, go ahead.
Joe: Sorry. I think that’s important to note, too, because if you focus too much on trying to get everyone to like you, it’s really gonna, I think, hinder your own personal progress–
Laura: Yes.
Joe: –because you’re gonna get way too wrapped up in, you know, getting down on yourself at the fact that these people don’t like you and you can’t figure out why, um, when really, you just need to kind of move forward and progress and, um, I think that you can still work with people even if maybe they don’t exactly idolize you-
Laura: Mm hmm.
Joe: –but, you know, as long as you can come together and get your job done at the end of the day and work towards a common goal–
Laura: Yeah.
Joe: –you know, you can move past that and it’s unfortunate that maybe, you know, this relationship won’t really be built out of it. But as far as a work relationship goes, as long as that, you know, stays intact, I think that’s important.
Laura: That’s a really good point. Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, you can still work with people and be productive together and not everybody has to be best friends. And the idea of getting really caught up in does this person like me or they don’t like me or I’m gonna try to bend to them– in fact, so when I was in the middle of all of this, I had a, a new team member and she said to me one day, she goes, “Why do you bend so much for this one person?” ‘Cause there was a member of my team who I really felt like didn’t like me and, you know, she wasn’t responding well to me and this new person comes in and sees in a heartbeat that I seem to be trying to bend everything around this person and probably to the detriment of the rest of the team and certainly to my own detriment. So you can’t, yeah, you can’t dwell too much on that concept, especially if you find yourself trying to force-fit and be something that you’re not. And not be authentic and not accept yourself. So, that was– that’s my story. Right? And I think that in the two or three years since this situation happened I really have gotten to a much better place, a far more authentic and real place in terms of accepting myself and I think that enables me to be far more of an authentic person and an authentic leader. And I wanna talk a little bit about that concept now. About authenticity. Right? So, in order to lead authentically you really do have to accept yourself. Um, and be authentic, right?
James: So, it’s kind of like that quote, “To thine own self be true.”
Laura: Yes. Very Shakespearean. Absolutely. I mean, it has it’s– it does. It has it’s foundations in, in Greek philosophy and going way, way back. So, I want to talk a little bit about this article and it, it describes a summit that happened– it’s actually about 10 years ago, now. So, they brought in people from the business world, political, educational, military. They all came together because they all had interest in this idea of authentic leadership and what does this mean? And they wanted to look at different models and different theories and philosophies around authentic leadership and try to find some commonalities and say, “Where do we all sort of converge?” Um, so, you know, one of the theories they talk about that we probably all have some good familiarity with is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. You guys know this one, right?
Joe: Absolutely.
Laura: Okay, so remind me a little bit then. What do we remember about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?
Joe: Basically, the Hierarchy of Needs is kind of like a pyramid structure where, at the bottom of the pyramid, you have your most basic of needs like, you know, shelter, things of that nature. And then as you progress up the pyramid, the levels become a little more complex in nature and there are still needs that might be critical to human growth but they’re not those basic survival needs that were instilled in us when, I guess, mankind first developed.
Laura: Right. Okay. So, yeah, James, you have a thought too, I can tell.
James: Well, so, in other words, so these more basic needs is what needs to be satisfied in person before you can go higher into this pyramid.
Laura: Absolutely. So, once your food and your shelter are all taken care of, now you can start to worry about the next level. So, do you guys remember what’s at the top of Maslow’s pyramid?
James: Self actualization.
Laura: Self actualization! Right? And what is, I mean, what is that? That is an extremely abstract concept, right? And Maslow’s Hierarchy, empirical research on it has really, really strong support for the bottom levels and the top levels, not so much. Largely because this is a really, really difficult thing to measure. And that is a big part of what this article talked about and what they described at the summit. So, um, in addition to this idea of Maslow’s Hierarchy and self actualization, one of the things that they, they brought up that I think is really important is authenticity is not a dichotomy. It’s not like you are authentic or you’re inauthentic. We all have levels of authenticity. Would you guys agree with that?
Joe: Yes. Definitely. So, I think for everyone, maybe, what they view as being authentic might not be what someone else views as being authentic. And that’s kind of those levels on the spectrum. Um, I also think it’s kind of important to highlight that at this summit, these four different fields are completely different in nature but the fact that they were able to come together and come to this conclusion really, you know, I think pinpoints something that’s important. Um, so as you mentioned, the fact that self actualization might not be a dichotomy and that applies across all four of these settings which are so vast and so different, um, is really something that needs to be looked into a little bit more.
Laura: Yeah. Absolutely. So, and they borrow from, you know, other principles and theories and things in psychology and, because we’re talking about authentic leadership, obviously you have to pay attention to the followers that you have. Right? So, it’s about this relationship between the two of you and, um, they pull on Social Exchange Theory and there’s a couple of key things here. One is reciprocity. So, reciprocity is as simple as, um, doing something for you will make you more likely to then do something for me. Um, in fact, I know, I know people, I’ve heard people say, “I really don’t want to ask somebody for a ride to the airport because I don’t want to have to give them a ride to the airport” or “I’m not gonna ask my friends to move because when they move I don’t feel like going out in the heat in August and moving their stuff.” Right? So that’s that reciprocity thing. The other thing that was really, really foundational to authentic leadership is, um, values and values congruence. So, the extent to which people have, um, the values that they have internally are aligned with the way that they express themselves. And this really plays in for the followers as well. So, is the leader authentic with the values they espouse and then their actions and their behaviors and do the followers even have awareness of their own values? And then the extent to which those things align. I mean, if you imagine relationships where the values align really clearly and you maybe don’t always think about it in those terms but you meet somebody and you talk and they’re saying these things that are important to you and you’re like, “Yes! That totally resonates with me. I get that. Oh, my gosh. We totally have this shared core value.” So, that’s gonna be a really critical thing in terms of building authentic leadership because it’s more than just you as a person. It’s the relationship that you, as a leader, have with the people who follow you. So, the relationship they say, when you really are demonstrating effective authentic leadership, what you’re gonna be able to characterize that as high levels of respect, um, significant positive affect, right? Which is really, to oversimplify, you know, feeling good about having those conversations, being with that person, you know, you feel good talking to each other and about yourself when you’re with that person. And then trust, which is so critical. If your values align, that person is probably going to be making decisions that align with the things that you would do. You believe that they have your best interest at heart. So, there really is a lot of, a lot of theory and research behind this idea of authentic leadership and self acceptance. And I want to move past a little bit because so what? So what do you do with this? Right? Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and values congruence, okay, well let’s start speaking more, more English here. So, when we talk about authentic leadership and self acceptance, it’s more than a training, right? I, I took so many training classes in my career and I was probably most moved and most, um, developed by this really tough experience that I had because it’s more than a training. It’s a far deeper development experience. And one of the things that’s really helpful for that is a coaching engagement. So, as somebody who’s received coaching, as an executive and leadership coach, I do this with people. And coaching really comes down to a couple things. Part of it is digging deeper. So, really understanding what is behind somebody’s motives. You know, a great example is somebody who says, “I want to lose weight” and then they eat a piece of cake and they sit on the couch and they watch TV. Well, there’s something really inconsistent there so let’s figure that out. It’s not just because you’re tired. Yeah, you’re tired but there’s something else that’s holding you back. So it’s digging deeper. And then a key thing is forwarding the action. So, it’s not just enough to understand it and it’s not therapy, right? People feel like it sounds like therapy sometimes but one of the key differences is we’re really not psychoanalyzing. It’s, “Okay. Oh, there it is. That’s why you’re sitting on the couch and eating cake and not getting up and going on the treadmill. So, let’s forward the action. What will that look like in making it really concrete?” The other thing that’s really valuable here is exploring the choices that you make. Um, again, decisions and choices being based on things like core values is going to be critical. Coaching can help with self awareness, which is gonna be another critical piece for you to do. So, I talked about values so let’s talk about how you actually do that. So, one of my favorite ways to do values is this peaks and valleys. And you ask somebody to look back over their whole life, and you say, “Tell me about some of the most important times in your life.” It was something that you were proud of or something that was devastating to you, so the full spectrum, it could be an extreme high or an extreme low. But pick the most intense moments or experiences or timeframes in your life. And you have them describe those things and you really take that and you go deep with that and you say, “So what is it about that?” So, I’ve had this experience with my friend happen when I did my coaching and this is one of the exercises I went through and what came out for me was how important friends are. Friends have always been super important to me, um, and so you can really get a sense for, okay, I really value this. This is a core value. And so you take it down to a deep enough level.
Joe: So, in that case, um, would you have given, I guess, that, um, situation a valley–
Laura: Oh yeah.
Joes: –attribution?
Laura: Absolutely. That was a deep valley. Right. Perfect. And then peak would be something, you know, a huge accomplishment. So, um, you know, for me, as goofy as it was, ’cause it goes all the way back to high school, actually getting chosen to be a drum major as a band geek was really exciting for me–
Laura: –so, and, and what did that represent, you know? It was a goal that I set and it was a goal that I achieved and it gave me validation that I was a leader and all these things that were really important to me. So I can draw out what are the core values. Because that still, you know, even as somebody in my 30s, that still stands out to me as, yeah, that was a huge moment in my life. I really remember how important that was.
Joe: Do you ever get, out of curiosity, as a coach, um, someone that might not really be able to tell you a peak or a valley? That kind of sits there and doesn’t really have any huge situations that they can come up with off the top of their head? And how do you deal with that if you do?
Laura: I think, instead of having people who can’t really come up with it on, off the top of their head– and it may be more a question of are they ready to go there?
Joe: Okay.
Laura: So, when I coach people, when we really get to that part of, okay, this is a formal coaching engagement, we’re doing this, I really have already gotten a sense from them are they, are they ready to do the work? And it’s not just a question of, okay, I’m gonna fill out a worksheet on peaks and valleys but are they ready to do the work to look inside themselves? So usually by the time we get to that point, they are at the place where they’re ready to be open about it and talk about it. And I usually tend to give them time. Right? So, it’s not in a session I say, “Okay, Jill. Go. Tell me, tell me your moments.” It’s homework, right? They have to go back and they have to think about it. So, I think with all that preparation and kind of screening people before really taking them on as coaching clients, they’re, they’re ready to do it.
Joe: So, it seems like that, the ability to be self aware and to self actualize first might require someone to be really willing to open up to others.
Laura: Yes.
Joe: Okay.
Laura: Or at least to, at least to one person, right?
Joe: Right.
Laura: At least one person. And to themselves. I mean honestly, it can be hard to say that stuff to yourself. And that’s kind of a good segue, right, as self awareness overall. Emotions. So, emotional intelligence, I mean that is an entire field in and of itself. We have, um, you know, here in Orlando, the Society of Emotional Intelligence. It’s a huge field. And it’s this idea of are we aware of other’s emotions and our own emotions and can we pay attention to the regulation of those emotions? So, that’s gonna be a critical part of authentic leadership. If you are sort of silently fuming and you’re not even aware of that and then you go to engage in a conversation with one of your followers, that’s not gonna go very well. Right? So you need to have a really strong awareness when it comes to emotions. And identity. So one of the tangible things they talked about from the summit was the idea of telling stories and the power of narrative. So, I absolutely recommend that to you, um, if you are trying to become a more authentic leader and you’re trying to build loyalty from your followers, tell stories. And I would say the more true it is and the more painful it is, um, the more powerful it will be. As long as it’s something that you’ve learned. You’ve learned something from it rather– if it’s a story where you are awesome and now it just sounds like you’re bragging about yourself, well that’s not gonna be good. But talk about your growth and your development. Um, I had recently moderated a supervisor panel for NASA at Kennedy Space Center and it was a part of a leadership, uh, development series. So this supervisor panel, I asked them questions about that. You know, tell us a story about a, a time where you feel like you made a mistake or something didn’t go well and how did you deal with that and they, they each shared a story but one leader in particular who I had previously, you know, said, “Hey. You know, I’d love for you to mentor me” or somebody that I really look up to and respect, he told a story and it was, it was raw and you could feel the pain and he, I mean, he let himself get a little bit emotional. I mean, you could hear it in his voice. There was something very real and very true and I’d seen him tell this type of story before and, no joke, well it was little bit of a joke, but he finished this story and one of the participants put his hands up and did this like bowing motion to him, like, wow, that’s amazing that you would share that story. And it’s so true because it, the vulnerability that that takes is, is so, so powerful.
Laura: So the other thing I would say really comes down, you know, motives and goals. And there’s so many assessments out there to help you understand yourself. One I really recommend is the Fundamental Interpersonal Relationship Orientation or FIRO. Fantastic theory. If you want to read more about it I recommend a site called Fantastic background. Judi Bell there studied with the, the man who actually developed the FIRO theory and she’s got this really, really great depth of understanding. And she actually taught a class called The Human Element and I took this assessment and one of the things that came up for me was I really wanted people to be open with me and I didn’t feel like they were open with me. And then I would start to engage in these behaviors where maybe I’d like ask them a lot of questions and I was doing the exact opposite behavior that I needed to to get my needs fulfilled. And it was really, it was really eye-opening. So, I don’t know. I, I wanted to share that story and talk a little bit about how valuable that is. Having gone through the experience I shared at the beginning of the show, I, I really feel a strong empathy to my clients who are going through this. I know, I know it’s difficult, uh, you know, I mean, I’ve been there. We all have slightly different experiences and different challenges but it does come back to this idea of do I accept myself? And is it really authentic? So, um, I notice when clients are trying to just change the outer shell ’cause that’s exactly what I did in the beginning. I said, “No problem. I got this. I’ll just make a little check here and it’ll all work out.” Very, very logical, very left-brained and not really willing to go and do the deeper work. Um, ’cause I know. I can promise you, you’re gonna get exhausted and you’re not gonna feel authentic because you’re not accepting yourself And, and I’ve had, actually, clients say, “I just want to be me.” They just want to be themselves. They’re tired of feeling like they have to be somebody else. And so I loved to work with people to help them figure out, okay, let’s peel back the onion. Let’s figure out who you really are and then let’s grow that. And let’s develop that. And so it’s not a question of becoming somebody else but becoming the best version of yourself that you can be.
Joe: Makes sense. Thanks Laura.
Outro: I hope you enjoyed that older episode, and as always, if you want to learn more about The Human Element, or authentic leadership, or coaching, please reach out to me, Laura, at or visit the website at We’ll talk again soon!

Recent Posts