The above quote is on the top of my home page and it is the foundation of all the work I do. My tagline is “See clearly, Act boldly, Live fully.” The first step to seeing clearly is to become aware (conscious) of the beliefs and assumptions that are driving our current behavior

Creative_ReactiveI attended a training session last week on the Leadership Circle system that I love to use with leaders who aspire to be better leaders from the inside out.  What I love about this system is that it measures not only one’s leadership competencies but also assesses our underlying beliefs and assumptions that can keep us from being our best selves; these beliefs and assumptions are called our “reactive styles.”

As with most work I do, it becomes a case of “physician heal thyself,” as I realize my own work that still needs to be done.

Our hidden beliefs and assumptions tend to fall into one of three categories: Controlling, Protecting, or Complying. We develop these deeply-held beliefs as we grow and learn to operate in the world.


People who have Controlling reactive styles may believe these statements:
  • I stay safe by taking charge.
  • Only the strong survive and I will be one of them.
  • I need to triumph over others to feel good about myself
  • Anything less than perfect is not okay.
  • I am a valuable person when people look up to me with admiration.
  • The world is made up of winners and losers.
  • Being less than others is unacceptable and threatens my security
  • Failure, of any proportion, could lead to my demise.
People who have Protecting reactive styles may believe these statements:
  • For me to be right, others have to be wrong (and vice versa)
  • I am worthwhile if I am right and find the weaknesses in others.
  • I am valuable because of my superior capability or insight.
  • I am not good enough.
  • I am safe and acceptable if I remain uninvolved and avoid risk.
People who have Complying reactive styles may believe these statements:
  • I am okay if people like me.
  • I am worthy when others approve of me.
  • I need to live up to others’ expectations to succeed.
  • I can stay safe by supporting others.
  • The world is a dangerous place. Caution makes me safe.
  • Loyalty, harmony, and going along to get along protect me from disapproval.

That’s me – the pleaser who longs to belong. I grew up being told what a good girl I was (especially in contrast to my older, stubborn brother.) I never gave my parents any trouble and I learned early there were rewards for playing by the rules. People liked me; they didn’t yell at me and life was fairly pleasant. I hated conflict, yelling, and being in trouble. The downside to always being the go along, get along girl is you can forget who you really are and what you really want. As a leader, you can be indecisive and avoid the tough decisions that come with leadership. People who knew me in my corporate job probably didn’t see me as indecisive and unable to make hard choices, but they didn’t see the angst these actions caused me.

The real work of leadership and the beauty of this system is it doesn’t cast blame, but it illustrates so clearly the costs involved of hanging on to beliefs and assumptions that no longer work, and it provides a clear path to developing more effective beliefs and assumptions.

We don’t become leaders by learning skills or altering behaviors. We become leaders (in our work and our lives) by shifting our mindset. I’d love to work with you and/or your organization to build your leadership.