CAL II Grads—Goodbye, Saboteur. Hello, Certified Agile Leader!

Before attending the CAL II session, I honestly believed myself to be a really good leader. I knew I was fairly harsh on myself in regards to my own actions, but I felt in the area of leader people and setting good examples, I was solid. I am not necessarily saying I am not a good leader, but I am admitting that I have room to grow.

Early on, there was definitely some retrospection that was initiated in class discussions and reading material, and the Leadership 360 results further cemented the picture of myself I had cultivated in my mind. My teams thought I was a good leader!  However, it was clear that I had a lesser view of myself.  Why? That was my goal: to find out why. Immediately I jumped into blaming my listening skills because I knew that was an area I needed to improve, but it was also one of our first lessons and easy to grab onto. I am the self-titled daydreaming queen.

I think my growth really took a turn after I took the saboteur assessment. When I received the results, I can honestly say I was floored. I was mad. I was angry. My saboteur was the victim!? I convinced myself that the assessment was flawed and it had to be wrong. That somehow the test was biased and was unable to take everything into account. That there was more to me than what the test was able to see and capture and that if I could talk to someone and explain everything, I could prove the assessment wrong.  I was looking for someone else to blame – to make it someone else’s fault.

Um…Can I just say “Hello, victim! There you are!” It should have been a neon flashing sign that the test was spot on. Thus started my crazy, fast spiral into emotional rollercoaster town. It has been quite a journey with lots of tears and revelations.

Taking a step back and looking at the whole picture, the 360 evaluation calls to light not only what we do well, but what we need to be better at. It shows those proficiencies as well as deficiencies both in regards to the topics the assessment directly covers and the spaces in between. The details are subjective for us to figure out. This was the first time I really had to look in the mirror and ask myself who am I? what kind of leader am I? What kind of leader do I want to be? I felt like now I had a guide, a starting point on where I should focus the next steps of my leadership journey on. I was feeling positive and where I needed to go next. The Leadership 360 results were easier for me to swallow than the next piece about saboteurs.

The saboteurs were the trickiest and most enraging and enlightening aspect of this class for me. It is easy to let your saboteur take over, especially in my case. I had to keep telling myself that sometimes, the saboteurs are just the traps we fall into that we aren’t necessarily consciously aware of.  Sometimes, they can also be something some of us do not want to know about ourselves or ever come face to face with. This was my case. My saboteur is deeply rooted in the pieces of my life I never wanted to relive (or remember), but oddly enough, either by chance or by choice, I am facing my saboteur daily. My saboteur steps from the relationship I have with my father, both when I was little and now. Through coaching sessions, class meetings, sessions with my accountability partner, and just decompressing all of this information with my husband, I have learned it is OK to be scared, nervous, anxious, or whatever adverb you can think of to interject here. It is OK to have my saboteur as the victim. This doesn’t make me any less of a person or any less of a leader. My saboteur is my demon. My demon that I need to face in order to be able to adjust my leadership style for the better. In scanning through one of my social media account, I found a quote that I think applies to my saboteur: “When a toxic person can no longer control you, they will try to control how others see you. The misinformation will feel unfair, but stay above it, trusting that other people will eventually see the truth, just like you did.” So to my saboteur, Fred…Good Bye!  This class, this blog post, my story…this is me saying goodbye. This is me cutting Fred off. This is me telling Fred that he no longer has control. This is me walking away and staying above it because I will no longer let Fred have any control over me. This is me outgrowing my demon, my saboteur. I no longer need you, and I now realize, I never really did. You have no power over me anymore.

Inherently, I think we set the bar higher for ourselves than what it should be, largely because we want to be better than we are. We want to be the leader we never had. We want to fill in the gaps that we felt prior leaders fell short on. We compare ourselves to that picture-perfect definition of a leader that we have painted for ourselves and subsequently, judge ourselves more harshly than really necessary. We are willing to give others a pass when they fall short, but we don’t always give ourselves the allowances we need and deserve. We are human. We are imperfect. We do not have to fill in all the gaps we’ve identified as needs of leaders. We just need to be ourselves. It’s ok to just be. Just be who we are. That bar was set up to be able to show up for others (really the expectation we feel others have for us) when it needs to be the bar we define by knowing ourselves. Our bar should be set to be the best and most honest version of who we are to be the leader we were meant to be. Now that I have kicked Fred to the curb, and to loosely quote Anu from one of our coaching sessions, I no longer have to show up for everyone else. I am going to show up for me. I am going to be true to myself. I am now setting the bar that is true to the authentic me, and in doing so, being the best leader for my team that I can be. I am going to continue to work on myself. I am constantly under construction. I am going to let me shine through, strengths and weaknesses, and up my leadership game organically in a way that is right for me.