Welcome to the Deploy Yourself Newsletter, where I share what impactful leadership looks like to show your own power. I also share the most insightful lessons and stories I encountered in the last two weeks. You can also read this issue online.
Identifying the Putin and Zelensky within us
I am sure you are also saddened by the recent violence in Ukraine and watching the two very different leadership styles of Putin and Zelensky.
While one is being criticized by the world for his fear-based leadership despite having a lot of power, the other is being called a lion and a symbol of courage, even without a lot of military and political power. Below are some quotes from Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy –
“The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride. [To U.S. government]“
“I do not want my picture in your offices: the President is not an icon, an idol or a portrait. Hang your kids’ photos instead, and look at them each time you are making a decision.”
The president can’t change the country on his own. But what can he do? He can give an example.
I do not try to play a role. I feel good being myself and saying what I think.
While I am shocked at Putin’s actions, I am not surprised as I see both Putin and Zelensky within me. I remember the times when I have been so scared and angry that I have acted in a destructive manner. I remember when I have been blind to other people’s wise counsel.
At the same time, I (like many in the whole world) have also felt the courage of Zelensky and his leadership – and to take a stand for something bigger than oneself. Recognising this, I am aware that the choice is mine – to fall prey to fear and anger or to choose courage to stand for what I deeply value.
He has taken a stand for the future of Ukraine. He is showing us that we all can choose courage over fear, transparency over censoring, and freedom over domination.
He is also demonstrating massive action by constantly talking to world leaders and asking them for what Ukraine wants – weapons, aid, sanctions against Russia, and calls for courageous action.
What could be possible in our lives if we choose massive courage action instead of acting from fear?
What could be possible if we choose courage and freedom over fear and control in our organisations and work?
What could be possible if we would all follow Ukraine’s President Zelensky’s example of courageous leadership?
Reflect, think, and journal on this prompt. I have been doing the same for the last week.
Reply back and share what you discover. I read and respond to every reply.
Articles and Stories Which Have Fascinated Me
How to Win the Long Game – Podcast
In this conversation, Dorie Clark shares how to win the long game, even when things look bleak today. She talks about the typical timelines that most professionals should expect in order to get traction on their work. Plus, she highlights three key questions to ask yourself during the toughest times.
- Why am I doing this?
- How has it worked for others?
- What do my trusted advisors say?
Trapped in a Values Oasis, and Learning to Influence without Authority
Misalignment of values within an organization can cause a great deal of friction. I call those pockets of values misalignment a Values Oasis. Perpetuating a Values Oasis is betting your team’s long-term success on your own, and recognizing that ought to shift your ethical calculus.
Even when you believe fervently that your values are better for your team, it’s not necessarily an altruistic act of leadership to adopt them if you can’t bring the broader organization along with you.
When you come across a missing process, this is a great time to lead your organization forward by modelling an effective approach. For example, Julia Evans’ approach of writing brag documents is perfectly shaped to fill a gap that most organizations have. This is the right time to use a technique like “model, document and share.”
The rule of thumb here is to lead through ambiguity and advocate through disagreement. It can be extraordinarily frustrating to “disagree and commit” to a policy or value that goes against your personal values, but any worthwhile measure of successful leadership needs to consider your team’s success more highly than your own.
From an article titled Trapped in a Values Oasis by Will Larson
The Art of Asking Powerful Questions
Powerful Questions are not what you hear normally. A powerful question comes up as an unexpected surprise to the listener and stops them in their tracks. For example – “How are you doing?” is not a powerful question. Instead “What was your favorite moment thus far today?” is one such powerful question.
Powerful Questions makes one think and come up with original answers. If a question makes you think about your life, priorities, values, etc, it is a powerful question. They don’t linger on the surface where there is emotional safety. Instead, powerful questions force you to be vulnerable. It requires some courage to face the discomfort of answering a Powerful Question.
Powerful questions can be provocative and open up new pathways for people which weren’t available before. They create space to reach the heart of the issue. Below are 5 principles to follow when asking powerful questions:
- Ask open-ended questions. Don’t ask questions that have one-word answers.
- Be curious. Ask one question at a time. Then shut up and listen. Get comfortable with silence.
- Don’t ask leading questions
- Ask deep and meaningful questions that make people think
- Don’t assume. Instead, challenge yours and others’ assumptions by asking, “What are we assuming in this situation”?
From an article from my desk on Powerful Questions
How Do I Stay Courageous While Facing Death?
Real courage comes from the recognition that we are all part of something bigger than ourselves and by transcending our limited self to connect with a larger purpose.
For example, people in war may act in a way that is consistent with this recognition by transcending themselves and their own personal needs and acting for a cause greater than themselves, such as freedom.
That’s it for now. If you have any questions or feedback, or just want to introduce yourself, hit reply. I read and respond to every reply. All the best,