In an article for the newspaper De Morgen, Jesse Segers turns the spotlight on CEOs. To avoid the pitfalls of power, according to him, a certain introspection is necessary. You need be able to get away and get some perspective on your work where you can think about your power and position as a leader. He recently explained why he personally places a lot of value on introspection and how he cultivates it, in the podcast ‘The story of the leader (Het verhaal van de leider)’.
We all have an ego, we live in a complex environment and we all get hurt sometimes. Your good intentions get misunderstood. Sometimes you get agitated too quickly as a leader. That is why it is crucial to have your own space in which to calm down, somewhere that won’t be invaded by work and commotion. It is in that place that you can come to realize: maybe this is good for me but not for the group, and as a leader you stand for the group.
You can experience a lack of authenticity when you cannot show your emotions. When you achieve peace, it is easier to give a reaction in which all aspects of you (the leader, but also the human being with feelings) are integrated. You can find that peace through yoga, but also through meditation, mindfulness or a walk through the forest.
A tried-and-tested recipe
I walk. Every month I go for a big walk at least once. Every two or three months I take a week off. That is not a vacation, because I work in the morning and go for walks in the afternoon. Sometimes with family, sometimes alone. Sometimes with a coach who tells me everything the way it is. The walks are there for me to think about what I’ve learned on a personal level. I also do yoga, I meditate and I enjoy a healthy diet.
Creating space is necessary to being a good listener. The context makes the leader, but leadership can be developed. For a leader to be able to inspire through storytelling, you have to go beyond the surface of things and that takes time. To learn something on a cognitive level is one thing, but in practice you will develop your knowledge on a deeper level. Combining social-emotional consequences with something you know cognitively is an ongoing process.
You can start by writing. That will start a conversation with yourself and will slow you down. If you look at it again two days later, you will be surprised at what you’ve written. Another way to slow down is listening to classical music in the car, instead of programs that shower you with more information and input. Classical music helps create reflection.
Find out what is keeping you from finding more space to reflect. A lot of people live frantic lives. They are constantly moving from one thing to the next, dropping off the kids, communicating on social media, getting hundreds of emails, being part of several teams. In short: they are constantly running. They know they should take more time to reflect, but the question is: what is keeping you from finding more space to do so, what is your fear, what is stopping you?