Be The Leader You Want To Be

“By focusing in specific ways on five key leadership elements—Purpose, Process, People, Presence, and Peace—you can increase your time, capacity, energy, and ultimately your leadership impact,” explains Amy Jen Su, author of the book  The Leader You Want To Be: Five Essential Principles for Bringing Out Your Best Self—Every Day.

Su shares both Western management thinking and Eastern philosophy to provide a holistic yet hands-on approach to becoming a more effective leader with less stress and more equanimity. She draws on rich and instructive stories of clients, leaders, artists, and athletes. And, she focuses on three foundational tenets: self-care, self-awareness, and personal agency.

Most important, Su explores in depth, chapter-by-chapter the Five Ps:
  • Purpose – Staying grounded in your passions and contributions, doing your highest and best work that has meaning and is making a difference.
  • Process – Relying on daily practices and routines that honor your natural energy rhythms, enhance performance, save time and that provide critical guardrails that keep you on point.
  • People – Raising your game by raising the game of others at work and at home.
  • Presence – Strengthening your inner capacity to pause between stimulus and response, so matters of effectiveness and impact drive decisions and actions, rather than old habits or knee-jerk impulses.
  • Peace – Learning to trust your capacities to evolve, adapt, and respond to whatever comes your way. And, how to lead from a place of acceptance, gratitude, and trust, rather than a place of stress, striving, and ego protection. 
As you read the book, you’ll learn how to:
  • Prioritize, elevate, tolerate or eliminate tasks.
  • Protect time and maximize energy.
  • Find balance in calendar commitments.
  • Build a strategic network—by getting comfortable asking others for help and reaching out to the right people.
  • Create new if-then scenarios to how to give yourself the power of choice.
  • Acknowledge your feelings and take constructive action for what’s within your control.
  • Set a barometer for what’s enough and how to have an attitude of gratitude.

 Amy Jen Su

Recently, Su shared this additional advice and recommendations:

QuestionOf the 5 Ps you consider Purpose to be the most essential. Why?

Su: I do consider purpose and your ability to reset the internal compass as needed, the most essential of the 5 Ps. It is easy, in the face of heavy workloads and other people’s demands, to feel like you’ve been ejected from the driver’s seat of life. Being connected to your purpose puts you squarely back in that driver’s seat – giving a greater sense of control, lifting you out of the day-to-day grind, and providing a way of sorting your yes’ and no’s more strategically.

To make purpose more tangible, I like to break it down into two component parts: your contribution and your passion. Bringing focus on contribution ensures that your time and energy is utilized on that which adds the highest value. Bringing focus on passion ensures that you are energized by what you do. Look for the goals, initiatives and projects which sit at the intersection of both contribution and passion and you’ll get an additional positive boost in performance, energy, and satisfaction.

Question: You also talk about the power of People. Why is it necessary to build a strategic network of support, and get more comfortable as a leader in asking for help from others?

Su: It is critical – as you take on increasingly larger and exciting roles – to recognize the power of people. The reality is no matter how effective or productive you are, you will eventually be capped by your own capacity. There are only 24 hours in a day and unfortunately, as much as we might like to, we can’t clone ourselves.

However, the fundamental mindset shift from “I want to raise my game” to “I raise my game by raising the game of others” is not an easy one to make. It means not jumping in and taking over every time anxiety or control gets the better of you. It means being able to increasingly let go more and getting more comfortable asking for help from others. Asking for help is hard and can feel vulnerable – either in your not wanting to appear weak or not feeling like you are putting others out.

It’s important to build a strong network of support and surround yourself with other people to help achieve big goals. Consider the other experts you can learn from even if you are an expert in your own right. Find those helicopters who can provide a more elevated view and perspective. Ask others to be your accountability buddy to ensure you follow-through. Have sausage makers you can brainstorm with. And, ultimately know who the cheerleaders or safe harbors are you can count on. The best relationships include a healthy give and take so support others in these same ways as well.

Question: As we advance in our careers, the focus is less on us, and more about what we can do for others. How can we find the Peace necessary to help us positively transform our teams and our organizations?

Su: As we advance in our careers, the focus is less on us and begins to shift to being more about what we can do for others. For many professionals, legacy, life purpose, and giving back move to the forefront at this stage. Coming to peace within ourselves is a necessary ingredient for being able to positively transform our teams and organizations.

When we are not at peace – we risk actions stemming out of striving, agitation or reaction. We are more focused on proving ourselves, proving we are right, or feeling the pressure to show we have all the answers. This stance shuts down our capacity to learn, to listen, or to be fully present with others.

To help find a greater peace within, focus on cultivating three important components of peace: acceptance, contentment, and trust:
  • Acceptance is a first critical component of peace because, the more you resist or oppose what is happening, the more energy you lose. It’s critical to acknowledge and feel your feelings but not be run by them. It is then easier to take constructive action for what’s within your control. 
  • Contentment is a second critical component of peace, because without it, you can become mired in negativity. Having an internal barometer for what’s enough and having an attitude of gratitude can help. 
  • Finally, cultivating trust in yourself and remembering that you have successfully overcome many learning curves and challenges before can help you to navigate new opportunities with greater ease.
As your leadership actions stem less from self-preservation or ego protection, the door for greater meaning and being in service of a larger mission and vision with others becomes more possible.

Su is Managing Partner and Cofounder of Paravis Partners, an executive coaching and leadership development firm. Her previous bestselling book is, Own the Room: Discover Your Signature Voice to Master your Leadership Presence.

Thank you to the book's publisher for sending me a copy of the book.


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