Leaders – Do you operate from the SHALLOW or DEEP end?

I must admit I have been singing Lady Gaga’s Shallow for a few weeks now (even before the Oscars performance!) and can’t seem to get it out of my head. It got me thinking about the difference between leaders that operate in the shallow or in the deep end of their leadership practice.

In my work, I coach leaders who mostly operate from the deep end. When someone uses a leadership coach, they are usually very committed to becoming the best leader they can be and most jump in with both feet. Occasionally, however, I work with a leader who holds back and does not take full advantage of the experience. It is my job, of course, to help move them deeper into the process but sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way.

Certain leaders regularly operate from the shallow end. You may be wondering what this might look like. It can show up in a variety of ways, such as blaming others for circumstances that are self-created or simply randomly occurring; being sensitive to receiving constructive feedback and being resistant to reflecting on feedback that is given. Shallow-end leaders may operate in a directive mode most of the time versus a listening mode. They may work at consolidating power versus sharing power, always seeking the limelight and/or recognition for personal versus. team gain, thus placing personal needs first over organizational needs. They seldom share any personal life experiences with team members – minimizing the human side of leaders and focusing solely on meeting business goals at the expense of others, consequently not fully investing in the organizational cause – holding back in time, energy or commitment.

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All leaders may operate in the shallow end at one time or another. As you build your leadership practice, you may start off with practices that are not fully formed and/or you may hold back from the full leadership experience due to lack of confidence or knowledge. It is normal to experience this. The real journey begins when leaders become self-aware of these limiting practices and use their experience, feedback, training, coaching or all of the above allow themselves to become vulnerable. At this point, leaders enter the deep end as they choose to move past these limiting practices and allow themselves to fully commit to being all in.

Take some time to reflect on your own leadership practice and examine if there are certain areas where you are holding back or limiting your own journey. If you’d like some support moving into the deep end – touch base with me at at the email address below.

For more thoughts on leadership, visit my other blog posts on the Staffing Stream or my SOUNDBytes.


Sandra Hokansson

Sandra Hokansson
Sandi Hokansson is a certified executive-level coach and principal of SoundLeadership. Reach her at sandi (at) soundleadership (dot) ca.

Sandra Hokansson

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