“The only definition of a leader I know is someone who has followers.” – Peter Drucker.
U.K. coaching and leadership guru Aboodi Shabi brings his wisdom to the Goaly blog once again today, giving us some insight into his philosophy of leadership. He challenges us to ask ourselves a question we hardly ever hear in leadership circles.
How Unavailable Are You?
When I work with leaders, I often ask them this question: “How are you unavailable as a leader?” What do I mean by this?
The Drucker quote suggests that it is your capacity to engage with others in such a way that they are willing to follow you that marks you as a leader.
For all of us who work as leaders, or who take on a leadership role in life, that capacity for engagement is an on-going process of learning.
A Way of Being
Leadership is not just about technical ability, or about a skill-set – it is about a way of being. We are talking about the ontology of a leader, if you will – what is it in our being that impacts how others perceive us as a leader. How do we show up, and how does that affect whether or not others are willing to follow us?
“How available are you for relationship?”
So, to come back to that question, I am asking leaders to reflect on those aspects of themselves which get in the way of their being someone people will want to follow.
Of course, this isn’t only applicable to leaders – even if we are not in a formal leadership role, we will need to relate to others and to be seen as someone that others will want to engage with.
The question could be made more general: How available are you for relationship? What aspects of yourself get in the way of being someone that others will want to engage with?
Here are a few examples of things which can get in the way of your availability for relationship:
- You like to always do things your way
- You need to be liked
- You are very results-focused
- You don’t take time to really connect with others
- You might find it hard to ask for help
- You’re uncomfortable with not knowing all the answers.
While all of those things might be useful at times, they can also negatively impact your availability for relationship.
Relate More, Engage More
If you want to become more available for relationship, or you want to engage more in life, then one of the first steps will be to identify where and how you are unavailable.
The best way to find this out is to ask others. Sometimes you might not even need to ask – you might simply have to listen to what others have been trying to tell you all along!
Take some time to ask, or listen to, people around you. How do they experience you?
Some of these conversations may not be easy, but try to listen from a mood of openness and willingness to learn rather than trying to defend yourself. If you want to relate more to others then surely it’s worth trying to find out how they experience you
“If you want to relate more to others, then surely it’s worth trying to find out how they experience you.”
Note that this isn’t about you becoming what others want you to become – it’s not an either/or situation, but a chance to reflect further on what it might require for you to be more available in your relationships with others, and to participate more fully in life.
© Aboodi Shabi – 2015
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