If you know me, you will have heard me talking to anyone that will listen, about this Whole Life Leadership philosophy I have.
When I left my corporate job back in 2015, I had a fire in my belly to transform the conversation around leadership. For the previous 8 years, I had had the privilege of coaching and creating leadership programs for hundreds of leaders inside of organizations. An unexpected, but very much life changing experience for me, was the process of defining and developing myself as a leader in order to do this work well.
I took on this work with a deep passion and curiosity around one simple question, what makes a great leader?
The answer I uncovered was surprising and it was one that I became so bought into that I knew I had to dive into it with all that I had.
So, what did I discover about great leaders?
At the core great leadership is not about what you do, rather, it’s about who you consistently are.
This was somewhat surprising to me because most of my work, and the focus of most corporate leadership development programs, are around building the skill set to lead others. However, what I came to understand was that what made the biggest difference wasn’t these skills, it was the ability to lead self consistently and reliably.
The leaders who aligned their actions with their values, the ones who had a deep understanding of who they were and what mattered to them, who had a clear vision and could communicate that vision with passion, these were the leaders who were thriving.
These were the kind of leaders I later went on to call, “Whole Life Leaders”.
Over the past 4 years I have been working to help organizations and business leaders see that these are the types of leaders the world needs now.
So what does it look like to be a Whole Life Leader? Let’s take a look.
The 7 Tenets Of Whole Life Leadership
1. Wholeness is necessary for optimal performance
An analogy that works really well here is one of a bicycle wheel. In order for a wheel to be in perfect working order all of the spokes in that wheel need to have integrity. If you think of yourself as this wheel, all the aspects of you need to be in integrity in order to be whole, complete, and performing at your best.
This means in order for one part of our life to thrive we need to be thriving all around.
You are a complex and integrated system and your optimal performance relies on your wholeness.
2. Living in congruence with your values is the only path to true fulfillment and inner peace.
This awareness first started with my own journey toward being a Whole Life Leader. Until I was 23 years old I can honestly say I don’t think I had ever thought about values and their importance in a meaningful way. It wasn’t until I found myself on the other side of a divorce, lost, and completely disconnected from myself that I started digging in.
What I know is when you don’t take the time to define what truly matters to you most, which is what values essentially are, you become un-anchored and easily pulled into the agenda of others.
This is the opposite of leadership and is a recipe for feeling disempowered and disconnected.
Really understanding who you are and what matters to you most is the foundation of effective leadership. However, this alone won’t give you peace. The peace comes from taking action that has you living and leading in congruence with your values.
3. Leaders make things happen that would not happen otherwise.
There are about as many definitions of leadership as their are leaders. And, that’s because there isn’t a one size fits all approach here. However, one thing that all leaders do is that they consciously create impact. They make something happen that would not have happened without them.
What I love about this definition is that leadership loses its connection to a title. This has nothing to do with whether you have a “C” title attached to your name. It has everything to do with what you are willing to take a stand for, moment, to moment, to moment.
4. Integration Not Compartmentalization
As of late there is more conversation in the corporate space around bringing your “Whole Self” to work; which is great. What’s interesting to me is even when the organization believes in this, and creates space for this, there are still a good number of people who aren’t comfortable with the idea.
Coming from someone who was the queen of compartmentalization I can tell you there is a cost that comes along with checking parts of yourself at the door. The cost goes back to tenant one around wholeness. When you have to guard certain parts of yourself in the different parts of your lives or with different people you are not whole.
Stepping into being 100% you 100% of the time may feel scary but that is where your full power lies. When you hold back a part of yourself or mask an aspect of who you are you turn down your volume. You are not fully expressed and that comes at a cost.
People connect to those who are authentic and who are willing to be seen. Next time you are inspired by someone you consider a leader, gives this idea some thought. I would be willing to bet that the inspirationation you feel comes from them showing up fully and unapologetically as themselves regardless of the circumstance.
5. Joyfully Achieve
When you commit to being a Whole Life Leader you will be inspired to take on some big values driven work that you are called to do and create impact around.
This type of work requires two things: 1. Being content and grateful for where you are right now 2. Being pulled forward by an inspiring vision for the future.
The most effective leaders I’ve met have mastered this illusive relationship. It’s in this sweet spot that you can work towards goals that may feel way out of reach and stay driven, inspired, and grateful for exactly where you are currently at.
6. The Desire To Self-Actualize Is In Our Nature
Behavioural Psychologist, Abraham Maslow, outlined in his famous hierarchy of needs, self-actualization is required to feel fulfilled as a human being. Self-actualization represents the growth of an individual towards living a life of meaning and purpose.
Why do you do what you do?
Leaders who understand their “Why” can overcome any how.
7. Becoming The CEO Of Your Life
If you aren’t the leader of your life who is? Whole Life Leadership is all about taking on a mindset where you are the CEO of your life.
If you looked at your life from this perspective what would you see? My guess is you would be nspired to get into action around any complaints you might have. You would look at how you could create what you want rather than wish, hope, and wait for it to happen.
At its core this is about taking 100% responsibility for anything and everything in your life. From this place you can show up for yourself and live as the leader of your life as opposed to being a passive observer.
I have a dream I’d like to share with you…
My dream is that in the future when I ask a room filled with people, “who here considers themselves a leader?” every single person in the room stands up boldly and proudly because they know they are a Whole Life Leader. This is the kind of leaders the world needs now.
Are you up for it?
One of my favorite programs to coach is the 12-week Whole Life Leadership Program where groups of entrepreneurs and leaders work through defining and activating their Whole Life Leader.
Set up your free 30 minute discovery coaching session to see what’s possible for you and your life as a Whole Life Leader.