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Caring Leadership Requires Letting Go of Past Failures

When endlessly scrolling down a social media newsfeed, many make the mistake of comparing themselves to the highlight reels of their friends and colleagues. Obsessively comparing everything from careers to holidays can damage your self-esteem, especially if you don’t stop to remember that it’s just somebody else’s best bits.

Leadership is no different. People are going to be taking assessments and gauging how they stand up against others’ benchmark scores. It usually manifests in thinking about all the things you have failed to do or should have done. All the times you messed up are much easier to remember than the career triumphs. It can even pave the way for the dreaded imposter syndrome.

Sometimes these feelings can blindside you when you least expect it, and they can quickly debilitate you. However, rather than allow it to stop you in your tracks, I want you to let it all go. Caring leadership is a journey, it’s not a destination. You will encounter hills and valleys throughout your career, and sometimes, you will need to stop dwelling on previous failures by letting go of the past and focusing on the road ahead.

While it’s essential to have a bigger vision of who you want to be, sometimes you need to strip everything back. Ask yourself, how can you show up better today, tomorrow, and the day after that? By taking one step at a time, you can move forward while also remembering to give yourself grace to know that you’re not always going to be perfect, and there is nothing wrong with that. By following three simple steps, you can finally let go of the past.

Step 1 – Finding your why

Understanding where your life is heading can be learned by knowing your why. What is your purpose, cause, or belief? Why does your company exist? What makes you want to leap out of bed every morning? Simon Sinek spoke of the importance of finding your “why” in his 2009 book, Start with Why

Leaders from Martin Luther King Jr. to Steve Jobs all started with WHY. These visionaries understood that leadership is not just about a product, service or movement, it’s about helping audiences to understand the why behind everything. Do the people you lead understand your why? 

Step 2 – Getting energized about caring leadership.

Caring leadership is not all about you. Leaders that genuinely care can be seen empowering others and ensuring they give themselves the proper care they need to show up in the best possible way. Employees will naturally look to them for guidance.

Caring leadership requires you to let go of the past and understand that it’s not about you and your journey. It’s all about the people you are leading and those that are looking to you for guidance. These are just a few things that motivate an authentic caring leader.

Step 3 – Be authentic.

What does authenticity look like in the context of the caring leader? We have all encountered individuals that show up one way for one person or group and an entirely different way for someone else. Rather than attempting to fake it as a social chameleon by mimicking the behavior and social cues of others, caring leaders will never pretend to be someone that they are not. 

As a caring leader, I will never shy away from telling the truth about myself. I like to think that I can endear myself to others because of that truth. Being authentic and ensuring that you aren’t an identical version of some other leader is crucial. We must work hard to reveal the best of ourselves to become the caring leaders our people need us to be.

I explore how everyone can cultivate self-leadership skills in my new book.  I invite you all to join me on a journey of continuous learning around the art of caring leadership!

Discovering and Expanding Leadership Influence During and After Any Crisis A Mini Course + Action Planning Guide

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Heather R. Younger, J.D. YouTube Channel