BE-ing Fully Ourselves As Leaders

15 Apr 2011 5:13 PM | Kathleen Loehr
You see, when weaving a blanket,
an Indian woman leaves a flaw in the weaving
 of that blanket to let the soul out.
  ~Martha Graham

One of my guiding principles is connection–connecting to myself, to family and friends, to colleagues, to donors and partners in the world. Being authentic, listening to my instincts, and building trusted relationships with many of the incredible people that flow through my life makes my heart sing. I'll confess I didn’t always lead this way.

I grew up in a family where the mantra was "Be the best." Getting A's in schools, working hard, pushing through obstacles and crises were all part of my DNA. I strove for perfection, and was always trying to figure out the "right" way–to write the best grant, to fix complex problems, to implement new programs. I moved fast, and achieved a lot.  Everyone admired me, and I kept getting assigned more and more responsibility because they knew that "Kathleen can do it."

And yet, my striving for "the best" left me unconnected to my own core essence. I recognized that while people wanted to work with me, no one "knew" me. I didn't really know myself–my dreams, joys, how I wanted to have fun. I gave little time to myself, or to my family and friends. Staff who were closest to me admitted they found me a bit aloof. My body was always tight, my speech always fast. I found I was breathing only in my upper chest and was always leaning forward. I was intent on "doing" the business of leading nonprofits, rather than "being" in relatedness.

With thanks to the many mentors and teachers that entered into my life at that time, I discovered the wonder and power of "we"–that true connection to myself, others and to a wisdom larger than any of us. Of deep inquiry, listening and reflection. Of recognizing that there was power in just BE-ing a leader by simply providing trusted space and compassionate guidance so others could find answers. I learned to be authentic, to show my feelings, to admit my insecurities. I practiced asking for help, and accepting it without guilt. I found that slowing down and building partnerships with others actually produced the desired results with less effort–more donor dollars were flowing, staff was more deeply connected to each others’ work.

I had to learn the hard way that authentically showing my own soul to a supervisor, colleague, sponsor, donor, or friend unleashes another's generative spirit and support, and keeps me whole. At The Leadership Sanctuary, we create trusted space so we each can reflect on and practice how to increase our own "BE-ing." Together we weave strong connections to support our human-itarian work of leading nonprofits.

 © 2018 The Leadership Sanctuary

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