S2E13: Jude Jennison reads ‘Leading Through Uncertainty’; Being Human
Chapter thirteen on Being human explores how we try to be superhuman in uncertainty by being attached to getting everything right first time. In uncertainty, there is no right way of doing things; there is possibility, opportunity and breakthrough when we step into trusting our leadership.
The chapter begins with a story of a client who put herself under enormous pressure to be “perfect” in front of her team and how the very desire to be perfect caused her to fail. When she let go of control, she found a place of ease, flow, connection and relationship that made leading much easier.
Here is an extract:
Rachel held back. Everyone knew that she had her own horses. She had been deemed “the expert” and the expectations were high. As Rachel watched her peers lead a horse one by one, her anxiety rose. She knew that this was different. Leading a horse was something she did every day, but she had never done it with the Leaders by Nature horses. Her horsemanship skills were not going to be enough here. This required her leadership skills. Rachel realised that my horses would not move just because they were told to. They don’t respond to command and control, and they won’t respond to horsemanship techniques. They have an opinion and are not afraid to use it. If they don’t want to move, they won’t.
As Rachel took the lead rope, she was anxious. She felt under pressure to perform in the spotlight, and she doubted her capabilities as a leader in that moment, as people often do when things are uncertain. She held the lead rope tightly beneath Kalle’s chin. She gave a sharp tug to ask Kalle to go with her, and Kalle head-butted her. Rachel stopped and Kalle head-butted her again. Rachel was used to telling her horses what to do and expecting them to follow. Kalle doesn’t work like that. She won’t respond to control and demands. She wants to be inspired, engaged and led, just like people in the workplace. Kalle also likes to fully express her opinion. She couldn’t do that with the lead rope being so short and tight. She was resisting being micro-managed. I asked Rachel to lengthen the lead rope so that Kalle could move her head. Rachel let go of control and found herself unsure how to lead. I’d removed her usual way of leading a horse, and she needed to find a new approach. Rachel stood still, trying to work it out. The more she analysed what was going on, the more disconnected she became from Kalle, and the more Kalle refused to move. Rachel had put herself under pressure to meet the expectations of both herself and her peers, who thought she would make it look easy. The longer she stood there, the more pressure she put herself under. The rest of her team looked on, amazed. Self-imposed performance anxiety is limiting and derailing. I asked Rachel what she thought Kalle needed from her as a leader.
“Clarity, direction and connection,” Rachel replied.
“Which of those is missing?” I asked.
“All of them!” Rachel laughed. She realised that she needed to relax into her leadership. She took a couple of breaths, trusted herself and invited Kalle to walk with her. They walked round effortlessly. Rachel walked with confidence and ease. Once she had let go of control, she could step into her leadership. Kalle was engaged at last.
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