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The Centered Leader

September 8, 2020

A study was conducted on the traits of truly effective leaders.

The results found by Bain & Company, a management consultancy, showed thirty traits common to most of these leaders. However, there was one trait in particular that every single one of the most effective leaders possessed—and it’s not what I expected. I assumed the most important traits of these top-tier leaders would be things like integrity, the ability to inspire, or consistently executing with excellence. 

But according to this study, all of the most effective leaders are centered.

This means that their ideas or feelings may change, but who they are as people stays the same. They do not change their values based on the tides of public opinion, shifts in strategy, mounting obstacles, or even career moves. They know who they are, what they are about, and they allow this self-knowledge to drive their thoughts, decisions, and actions.

So, if this trait of being centered is so essential, it’s probably worth us taking a deeper dive. 

I think we could all stand to look in the mirror and perform a centeredness audit. Here are some questions for you today: Are you centered? Would the people around you—your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers—describe you as centered or as someone who is constant?

Regardless of where you find yourself on the centeredness spectrum, I believe there are three things that can help us foster this important trait.

1. Be anchored in values. Just like an anchor on a boat, your values keep you from straying too far from where you want to be. If you can’t name specific values for yourself, consider what is most important to you and write these things down. It’s impossible to be centered without knowing and holding to your values.

2. Drive toward mission. This idea of centeredness might project an image of immobility, but effective leaders are always moving forward toward a mission. Your goals may change and your strategies may shift, but the mission which motivates you should remain the same.

3. Be fueled by purpose. If the mission is the target you are headed toward, the purpose is the gasoline that will motivate you to get there. Your purpose is the reason you do what you do. A compelling purpose gives you the energy you need to keep going when things are difficult.

Imagine that as an effective leader you are a steam locomotive. Your values are the tracks, keeping you from straying off course. Your mission is propelling you forward toward your desired destination, and your purpose is the steam, fueling your engine to run. 

A centered leader needs all three.

This week, consider how you can grow to be a more centered individual. Take one step this week. Define your values, write out your mission, or discuss your purpose with a friend or colleague. Your future self will thank you for it.


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