I was interviewing the leader in a small non-profit earlier today. I’m currently working to construct a leadership development and coaching program for this organization, and as always, I start by talking to the stakeholders...the leaders who will eventually be coached....
This particular leader was very self-aware regarding her strengths and weaknesses, but something in particular she said really stood out. In the same sentence, she discussed how her strength of reflection is also a weakness because her reflective thoughts often turn into a most vicious inner critic. Can you relate?
What are the key characteristics here that help us define growth-oriented reflection?
Its painfully obvious, I realize. But get honest with yourself for a moment. Think about the last few times you were “reflecting” on something that occurred due to your leadership. Did you learn quickly and move on with your confidence and self-worth still in tact? Or, did you decide to beat yourself real good for a few hours before you could be present and in the moment again?
The inner critic does not help us grow. Many of us with our self-proclaimed “perfectionist tendencies” think that we are successful because we are hard on ourselves and set the bar high for ourselves. That’s simply not true. We are successful because of our knowledge, skills, drive and likability...not because we beat ourselves up internally every chance we get. Next time you feel tempted to do so, pretend you are someone else. Pretend you are one of your closest friends or a family member. See this person in front of you and say the harsh words you had planned for yourself to this other person you love and care for. Judge them harshly and criticize them for all of their mistakes.
Get the point?
To be the best leader you can be, you need to have rock solid confidence and self-worth. An overly harsh inner critic does nothing other than chips away slowly at both. Instead, give yourself permission to be human. Give yourself permission to make mistakes. Give yourself permission to move on from your mistakes swiftly and model this healthy behavior for those you lead...because guess what? They are busy beating themselves up too.
We would love to hear from you - what are you strategies for quieting the inner critic?
What works for you?
A proven executive coach and consultant, Carrie has a doctorate in organizational development, and over 16 years in non-profits. She has consulted and coached leaders from more than 30 states, and has held various leadership positions in some of the largest nonprofits in the US.