The Inner Core of Leadership

I have been reflecting a lot and in conversation with coaching colleagues lately on what it takes to build and maintain your inner core.

What does it take to build and maintain your inner core? We know that maintaining your inner core is essential for aligned Sustainable Leadership.

Sustainable Leadership:
A leadership approach that is authentic to you and is sustainable over the long term. It’s about consciously engaging in a deeper relational understanding of one’s core self.

Through the process of examining what brings meaning and purpose to your life, articulating your core values and claiming your strengths you build greater Adaptability, Integration, and Resilience which is the foundation for your Sustainable Leadership.

Over the next five weeks, we’ll dive deeper into the importance of developing and strengthening your inner core.

This is part 1 in the 5-part series on the Inner Core of Leadership by Diana Gabriel, Certified Strengths Strategy Coach.

Inner Core, Traits, Values, Strengths, Purpose, Inner Game, Inside Out, Reflection, Risk, Action, Authentic, Strengths, Strengths Based Leadership, StrengthsFinder, Leadership Coach

You cannot master the outer game of leadership without a soundly established inner core. Click To Tweet

The most challenging part of growing brilliant leaders who will thrive in 21st century business is coaching the inner game of leadership. As a leader today you must adapt to rapidly changing demands and continually grow the character strengths that bolster your functional capacities to lead effectively.

Successful and effective leaders, like you, learn to master the C-suite competencies:
Setting strategic direction.
Communicating an inspiring mission.
Understanding financial data.
Planning and coordinating resources.
Ensuring that processes, systems, and people achieve results.

While most leadership development efforts focus on these responsibilities, they’re ultimately insufficient and fall short in equipping you to be an inspirational leader with great impact – you must address your inner core of leadership. However, in my coaching practice I find that leaders often gravitate toward the competencies they’re most familiar with or believe are the most important to their success – things like finances, strategy, or processes rather than their “soft skills.”

What Is the Inner Core?
The inner core consists of character traits that are manifested from your core of Values, Strengths, and Purpose. Traits like honesty, passion, vision, risk-taking, compassion, courage, authenticity, collaboration, self-awareness, humility, intuition and wisdom. This may seem like a tall order for training and development, but developing and deepening the inner core of leadership is essential for authentic leadership.

One approach that highlights the inner core is the “inner game” concept. Becoming popular 15 to 20 years ago, sports coach and consultant Tim Gallwey coined the term in his series of books: The Inner Game of Golf, The Inner Game of Tennis and The Inner Game of Work. His ideas, focusing on the inside out, have proved to be timeless.

Inner Mastery Required for External Success
Your outer world results are driven by what goes on inside your head and your heart. The mental models you create for yourself are based on your own experiences, often-erroneous beliefs, blind-spots and even fears. Without doing some reflective work it’s hard to think beyond the boundaries of your current realities. We don’t know what we don’t know.

When you learn to change your thinking by strengthening your inner core, you modify your behaviors and align the results you achieve.

The fear of failure, for example, interferes with your ability to take necessary risks. You may feel as if you should wait until you have enough data to assure certainty. But, in today’s business world certainty may never arrive and can mean missing critical opportunities. When you avoid risk and play it safe, you are not living fully into your leadership capacity. Brené Brown in Rising Strong submits that failing is the nature of courageous leadership. That rising again from each failure is what builds your character and makes you a great leader.

Effective leaders weigh the risks and take action, despite ambiguity and uncertainty. Your ability to reflect and your level of awareness allows you to master leading from the inside out. It feels authentic to others so they will follow.

You cannot master the outer game of leadership without a soundly established inner core and proficiencies built from that core. Your inner core has more to do with character, courage, and conviction than with competencies. It’s the ability to act when situations are complex, volatile and ambiguous. This is the right stuff of leadership: wisdom, self-knowledge, social intelligence and a solid grounding in personal values, strengths and purpose.

Have you taken the time to reflect on and identify your inner core? Have you actively engaged with a leadership coach to help you develop character strengths? I’d love to hear from you. Reach me here and on LinkedIn.


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