You need to develop this leadership skill first!

Jo Ilfeld | Executive Leadership Coach

I am not a sports fan.

I didn’t grow up around sports (except for the best of the Chicago Bulls, my hometown team)

In fact, I used to say that one of the reasons I married my husband was because he didn’t watch sports and I found them so boring to watch. I worked one summer in Boston and my employer took us to a Red Sox game where I concluded that nothing could be more boring than baseball.

And then I had kids. . .

It turns out, one of them absolutely loves baseball. And basketball. Then my other kids started playing basketball.Jo ILfeld | Executive Leadership Coach

Once I was spending each spring weekend going to baseball games, I realized that there was an art to the game and I found myself fascinated by his games. Then I became the kind of person who screams wildly when Madison Baumgartner strikes out the last player in a World Series game. Or when the Warriors win the championship for the first time, and then again, and again.

Recently I was at Oracle arena watching Game Six of the championships and the last game at Oracle arena. I was so nervous and stressed out on behalf of the Warriors that my lip was actually involuntarily twitching, during what was a 10th and ultimately disappointing game for Warriors fans.

Why am I giving you my sport evolution saga? So often when people come to me as a coach, and we start talking about things they might be able to do differently. Most people’s first reaction is, “well, that’s just not me.” Or “ I can’t do that.”

Yes, I do ask my clients to stretch. If they can’t get out of their comfort zone, it’s unlikely they’ll see the bigger changes that they seek. I also know that our definition of who we are and what we do can change substantially over our lifetime. It’s not just that I went from being completely bored by sports, to being truly passionate about several sports and being an avid fan. There have been other big changes, and ways of being that I’ve worked on in my life. Even recently, I decided a few years ago to work more on my temper, because I realized I wasn’t parenting my kids the way I wanted to.

So I bring this up first as hope, because if there’s something you think might be too hard for you to work on, but you see value in it, my hunch is there’s a lot more you could do about that. There are a lot of ways that working on your “issue,” whatever it is, can shift your identity for the better.

Secondly if you’re someone who has been giving yourself a free path to not be a “people person,” not speak up in meetings, or not toot your horn at work and communicate all the great things you’re accomplishing to your managers, then what I’m saying is, you might need to question whether that’s really “who you truly are,” or just the identity you’ve taken on at this moment. Identities that often served you well at one point might no longer be working in your favor now.

So my questions to you today are:

  • Is there feedback you’ve been given that feels like people are asking you to a be a different person?
  • Is there something you’ve wanted to accomplish but you feel like your all-to familiar stories keep undermining you?

If so, it might be time to experiment with a holding a new idea about yourself, who you “are” and what you “do.”

Let me know what you’re working on in the comments below. . . perhaps I’ll have an idea for you!

Jo Ilfeld, PhD

An executive leadership coach, Jo helps C-suite leaders, executives, and high-potential managers develop the flexibility, skill, and frame of mind to meet the challenges of the next five, ten, twenty years…. and beyond. She works with individuals, teams and organizations on four core areas of leadership development. Check out Jo's bio page for more information.

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