There are shelves in bookstores and pages in college catalogs devoted to leadership. There are advanced degrees, seminars, groups and organizations devoted to the topic.
But I think the concept of “leadership” is remarkably simple:
- Knowing who you are, what you value and why
- Showing up in full integrity for who you are and what you value
- Doing the necessary repair if you have a fail with #2
- Being clear with others how you prefer to be treated
Let’s break each one down, shall we?
Who am I and what do I value? And why?
The best way to show up as a leader, especially in relationships, is to know yourself on a very deep, realistic level.
Often people will go into relationships to fortify areas of themselves that seem missing. “I’m lonely,” they say, “and that’s why I want a partner.” Then it evolves into, “I’m lonely, so my partner should do things to remove this loneliness from me.”
And when you decide to know who you are, what you value, and why, it’s a natural extension to take personal responsibility for getting what matters most to me.
Being in a relationship with someone who is self-aware like this is an incredible experience! Then we’re there to share, not to address neglected or avoided inner work or maturity issues.
Do I show up in integrity with the decisions I’ve made about who I am and what I value?
This means knowing what you want, taking responsibility for creating those results, and owning when you fail to do so.
For example, let’s use the example of healthy eating.
Partner A wants to eat more vegetables. Partner B does not. Partner B brings home ice cream. Partner A chooses to eat it.
When Partner A is in integrity with themselves, they don’t blame Partner B for “sabotaging my eating plan!”
They know who they are and show up in integrity for themselves regardless of what’s happening around them or who’s doing what.
Being in a relationship with someone who displays the leadership of personal integrity can feel incredibly freeing. Look, two grownups sharing experiences while taking responsibility for ourselves! Pure magic!
When I make a mistake (intentionally or otherwise), do I take the steps to repair the issue?
Leadership means seeing what happens, learning the lesson, and taking corrective actions when needed.
In relationship, this means:
- Seeing interactions as learning opportunities
- Assuming good intent that your partner didn’t mean to be hurtful and neither did you (unless or until proven otherwise)
- Taking steps to correct the mistake from a generous heart, not from obligation
Being in a relationship with someone who takes responsibility for mistakes can be a very deep, beautiful way to experience love and connection.
Am I clear with others how I prefer to be treated?
Boundaries, the way I practice them, are not like this: “Do what I say or you’ll get in trouble with me.”
The way I set boundaries is like this: “This is what I prefer/request. You are an adult and you always have your own agency to decide what to do. I don’t expect you to comply – you always have your choice. And…if you do X, my response will be Y.”
It’s clean. It’s clear. It’s respectful. And it avoids surprises.
It’s sharing your preferences and requests in a way that communicates your respect for your partner’s choice.
Being in a relationship with someone who sets respectful boundaries is a breath of fresh air. There are fewer surprises and less drama.
What do you think?
You have a beautiful opportunity to be a leader in every relationship you’re in, romantic, parenting, professional, and family.
And relationships where both people bring their simple, clean leadership energy are the ones that create the most beautiful outcomes.
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