Inner-Directedness: Adjusting the Inner Compass to Drive Success as a Leader

Leigh Bailey | August 11, 2022 | Blog | 3 minute read

Inner-Directedness: Adjusting the Inner Compass to Drive Success as a Leader

Your sense of self-worth and your beliefs about where self-worth comes from is critical to your success as a leader. Unfortunately, many common societal beliefs about the basis of self-worth are self-sabotaging and can negatively impact your success.

Self-Sabotaging Beliefs

Common self-sabotaging beliefs that are problematic for leaders include:

• "My self-worth is dependent on what I achieve"

• "My self-worth depends on what others think of me"

• "My self-worth depends on not making mistakes and being perfect"

Why are these beliefs self-sabotaging? What they all have in common is the idea that your self-worth is not permanent and an essential part of who you are. Instead, it is conditional depending upon how you and others judge your accomplishments and whether others (your boss, your employees, your friends, your family, your co-workers) seem to like and approve of you. Effective leadership is not a popularity contest.

What it Looks Like When Leaders are Off-Course

How do you know when a leader is struggling with a lack of inner direction? Here are some of the symptoms and negative consequences we see in real-time at The Bailey Group:

• Leaders become unnecessarily self-critical and self-blaming when things go wrong, creating unnecessary anxiety for themselves and their teams

• Leaders have a fear of being criticized, become risk averse, and slow to make decisions

• Leaders see peers (or others!) as potentially threatening, which damages critical business relationships

• Leaders do not advocate for their own or their team's needs, avoid conflict, and accommodate others' needs first. This lessens the value leaders can deliver to their team and organization

• When leaders seek to gain control and reduce their own anxiety, they intentionally or unintentionally bully and intimidate others

• Leaders have issues with delegation and micro-managing because they are overly concerned that their employees' mistakes reflect poorly on them

• Leaders become overly focused on "managing up" and pleasing their boss

The Benefits of "Getting There"

Changing self-sabotaging beliefs about self-worth takes time and discipline. It requires building new neural pathways and coping with the cognitive dissonance and anxiousness that always accompanies personal growth.

Here are two beliefs regarding self-worth that I have found from personal experience can help reduce your anxiety and increase your effectiveness as a leader:

• "I have inherent worth that can't be changed by my successes and failures or other's opinions of me."

• "My self-worth and my needs and opinions are equally important to other's (not more important or less important)"

When I remember that my self-worth is not dependent on my successes (or failures) or on other's opinions of me, I notice positive changes in how I interact with others:

• I am a better listener

• I am free to express my opinion, even when I disagree with someone

• I am less concerned about winning arguments and more concerned with understanding other points of view

• I am less anxious

• I am more comfortable believing that who I am is enough

Similarly, when I remember that my needs and opinions are equally (not more or less) important as others, I find myself more willing and able to express my point of view, advocate on my behalf, engage in constructive disagreement, be more open and less afraid when other's express their opinions and needs, and feel less

of a need to control situations. As a result, when I disagree with others, I feel less of a need to "win" and instead better able to find mutually acceptable solutions.

The Bailey Group Can Help

Becoming "inner-directed" and honing your internal compass is critical to your success as a leader. Bailey Group coaches are trained both in psychology and business and are thus prepared to support leaders in their journey of personal growth and development. If inner-directedness is missing on your team or in your organization and you need to get back on-course, contact The Bailey Group. We know how to help!