Each of us has a human need to belong….to be a part of community. So we join fraternities, clubs, and groups of one sort or another, in our attempt to fill our most basic need for connection to others. And as leaders, our role in the group is to create “buy in” and to build consensus. We want to see “eye to eye”.

But, what do we do when we don’t have that agreement or support for an idea or a vision?

Many of us, even good leaders, can feel anxious when we take a stand which sets us apart and alone. But anxious does not need to paralyze us.

Courageous leaders learn to tolerate the loneliness of being separate from the group. This is really what it means to be “self defined”. Being a self defined leader doesn’t mean bulldozing or dismissing others’  input. Leadership isn’t having all the answers. But there are times to confidently press forward with novel vision and ideas and to stand solidly behind your conviction, however unpopular.   “I” to “I” means having a secure  enough relationship with yourself -  trusting who you are -to be able to stand alone.

To begin the exploration of your level of self definition you can ask:
How was individualism viewed in your culture?
How was taking a stance received by your family?
What was it like to be different? Respected or tolerated or ridiculed?
What are your experiences of inclusion and exclusion?

How do you think this has influenced your leadership style?

Seeing eye to eye is one important aspect of leadership but the position of “I” to “I” is equally important.

In my next posts, I’ll talk about other aspects of self definition and strategies for self management.

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