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Assume your inner stance

Oct 06, 2019

Leadership involves making decisions and taking actions in order to solve problems and achieve objectives, but what makes it so challenging is its unique responsibility for influencing and developing people. That’s why it’s important to develop your inner stance, says Patrick Gallen

Many endeavours in life are a matter of acquiring skills and knowledge and then applying them in a reliable way, but leadership relies most strongly on less tangible and measurable things like trust, inspiration, attitude, decision-making, and personal character. These are not necessarily the result of experience; they are facets of humanity, enabled partly by the leader's character and, in particular, by their ‘inner stance’.

The good news is that anyone who wants to be a more effective leader in any situation can do so by developing the ability to adapt their inner stance. In other words, they can easily alter their starting position so they come out of the gate the right way.

Dusan Djukich, in Straight Line Leadership, describes inner stance as “the mental posture you assume”. Like a golf stance or yoga pose, it can be adjusted at any time to achieve a better result. You can choose the stance of serving the people you lead, rather than a stance of pleasing them. You can choose to be an enabler of others, rather than dictatorial. There are many different types of leadership stances to choose from. 

Some people have only one stance, which may be right for certain situations and wrong for others. People think that stance is a personality trait, but they are simply working from an inner stance chosen at an earlier stage of life and have stuck with it, regardless of the consequences.

Adaptability of stance is an increasingly significant aspect of leadership, because the world is increasingly complex and dynamic – it is essential to have a keen understanding of relationships, often within quite large and intricate networks.

There is nothing false about changing your inner stance. In fact, it is about honestly assessing your stance on an ongoing basis and committing to improve it from a place of integrity. Adaptability stems from objectivity which, in turn, stems from emotional security and maturity. Again, these strengths are difficult to measure except in terms of results.

The world is more transparent and connected than it has ever been and the actions and philosophies of organisations are scrutinised by the media and the general public as never before. The ability to be aware of and adapt your inner stance is more important than ever. In order to lead people and achieve greatness, it is essential that the modern leader has the ability to understand and apply the correct inner stance to a myriad of situations.

Patrick Gallen is Partner – People and Change Consulting in Grant Thornton Northern Ireland.