Posted in Leadership

Personal Leadership Journey

When we were not sleeping, eating, maintaining personal hygiene or doing Yoga onboard, we were constantly hustling between sessions, shore landings, and leadership training for 12 hours a day. It was pretty hectic. The days were long but extremely productive.

The crux of the ‘Leadership on the Edge’ program is based on the Authentic Leadership Theory, a study showcased by Harvard Business Review. According to this theory, there is no single defining factor or a formula that can make us a perfect leader. Authentic Leadership is the answer. “Authentic leaders demonstrate a passion for their purpose, practice their value consistently, and lead with their heads as well as their hearts” according to HBR. Our mission was to find our individual Leadership Authenticity.

“Our power as leaders comes primarily from our life expiriences.” -Mattias

So, the mission includes digging back into our own life stories. While each one of us were familiar with our own personal life story and knew it as we had lived it, we all worked together in teams and went through everyday sessions to share this story. This made us experience our life through multiple lenses of peer feedback. We first identified our Core Values, defined them further, rephrased them to deepen our relationship with them and shared it with our team to commit to them.

The next step was to share our ‘Crucibles’-our worse moments of our life that redefined us as people, shook the ground below us and changed our life (for better or) for worse. Crucibles play a huge part in shaping our personalities in ways which we can never understand or fathom, when we are going through it. Our crucibles define our success.  For us to share our crucibles with our teammates uncensored, in its raw details, put us in such a vulnerable spot but at the same time built immense trust. For everyone, this was quite emotional but for me personally it was emotional plus liberating. I could come to terms with many incidents in life that I had chosen to shut out or drowned in synthetic happiness.

Success is the measure of not how high you get but how fast you recover when you fall.

My familiarity with crucibles helped me reduce my recovery time every time I fell. And I’ve fallen many times in the past 3 years mostly because of my constant willingness to take risks and often risks with high stakes. But through my experiences, I’ve learned to exercise caution. The next step was finding our sweet spot, by assessing our strengths. We shared our best leadership story and our peers helped us access what they picked up on as our strengths. It was a great session right after the crucibles to re-instill self-belief and self-confidence with all those positive words attributed to you. Also, you didn’t leave your teammates thinking you are a total loser with all the failures you had shared with them. Everyone has had their moments of ‘Awesome’!

Finally, we assessed our intrinsic motivations and our extrinsic motivations and combined that with our Leadership strength to find our Sweet Spot. My sweet spot according to my peers was in Consulting. They came up with this by analyzing and combining factors such as how I crave diversity in the projects I like to take up, how I am a total ‘people person’ with my interpersonal skills as my biggest strength and how I like to travel. But funnily enough business consulting was never my thing, is what I always told myself.  I find it interesting how there is this apparent difference between how you perceive yourself and how people tell you otherwise. I guess the pursuit is to make them one and the same. But this entire process made me more self-aware and made me reprioritize my motivations. Because for me, my biggest intrinsic motivation was to ‘help someone’ and my biggest extrinsic motivation was ‘approval’. ‘Money’ was number 5 on my extrinsic motivation list and that in retrospect needs to bump-up two spots, as I see myself growing old and feel the need for a shift in priorities. That’s the thing about putting these things on paper, unlike core values, your motivations will shift from time to time depending on where you are at in life.

‘Self awareness’ is the single most recomended capability for leaders to develop.

Each one of the Steps mentioned took us about two days each and about an hour each day to complete, in between all those sessions. So that was about 12 hours of being on our feet from sessions to session. I hope that explains my point about information overload and about how there is always so much happening on the ship!


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