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Lead as Yourself: Three Ways to Harness the Power of Being Human

Samir Selmanovic October 25 2015

What is it that you can do because you are human?

What is it that you can do because you are this particular human?


Get very good at these things.


Current leadership development programs are based on a competency model. Competencies are enough (and necessary) when problems are distinct, codified, and transmittable.

Today, however, the context of leadership has changed to one of VUCA (the military-acronym- turned-corporate-buzzword for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity).

In such an environment, isolated behavioral competencies become too numerous and too generic. To use a technology metaphor, adding more software (competencies) to an outdated operating system begins to have diminishing returns.

Humans, however, have natural capacities that can upgrade their unique operating systems. They are thinking, feeling, and language abilities that promote learning agility, self-awareness, creativity, and resiliency, as high performing leaders pivot from stage to stage toward more authentic, inclusive, and adaptive leadership.

These human capacities are not leadership techniques that one can learn in leadership training. They are life skills that can be earned only through a mindful human experience. They can be practiced any time and in any place.

1. Being present

Attention is the most valuable currency of your leadership. The world will respond to you in proportion to the range and depth of attention you develop for what is happening in the here and now. To be fully present for that crucial business conversation or that all-important meeting you are about to lead in an hour or in a day, let go of it. Instead, practice being fully present in the conversation or meeting you are part of right now. To be there, you have to be here.

2. Telling a bigger story

Stories are containers of all meaning. They create reality. Through stories you can design and re- design your very own identity, past and future, both personally and organizationally. Powerful stories venture into shadows. Lean into what you are avoiding. Follow the heat. Through telling your story, you can turn your weaknesses into your greatest leadership currency. Rediscover yourself as a meaning-maker.

3. Befriending the unknown

Once you know, you create a whole nervous system to stop you from knowing more or knowing differently. So, don’t know. Position yourself as a master learner. Have courageous conversations: the ones you don’t want to have. That’s where your heart wants to go and where your followers will follow you. Your life is surrounded and upheld by the unknown. Practice robust vulnerability.

By Being Yourself, You Make Your Competition Irrelevant

Once we apprentice ourselves to our own lives rather than relegating our trust to mere leadership competencies (as important as they are and always will be), we learn to inhabit our own lives.

Moreover, we learn to love our own lives. And with affection comes vitality, resilience, and inspiration. These in turn cannot but create followers, results, and fulfillment.

Fortunately, there are great resources available online, in bookstores, and increasing in our workplaces. Good days are before us!

Wisdom Workroom offers two coaching programs to further your human abilities:


Human Journey: A 90-Day Guidance Program to Harness the Power of Who You Already Are

Executive and Lovedrunk: A 90-Day Personal Artistry Development Program


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