Our senses inform us of our surroundings – what we see, hear, smell, feel, or taste. We also have five leadership senses that work together to guide our decision making as a leader. A keenly aware leader will use each of these senses to navigate through the challenges of leadership.
Sense of Self
Every one of my favorite movies deals with the main character emerging victorious because they have discovered who they really are. A leader needs to be authentic and transparent to themselves before they can do the same with their team. You cannot improve what you are not aware of – having a clear sense of self provides us the confidence to lead and the humility to grow.
Sense of Family
The family that raised you is also the first team you have ever been a part of. Countless experiences shape the stories of your childhood that evolve into your sense of family. What were those moments you experienced growing up that have become the stories you retell yourself as a leader? Which stories you choose will frame your sense of family. Your sense of family will shape the type of legacy you want to leave as a leader.
Sense of Belonging
All of us belong to different groups – church, friends, soccer parents, etc. The word “belong” can mean “property of”. Think about which groups you have become the “property of” and you’ll discover the source of your sense of belonging. Keep in mind that the groups we belong to generate subconscious models of leadership that we reference as we lead. Your sense of belonging will shape the values of the groups you develop as a leader.
Sense of Place
Where you are from provides you something valuable to share with the place you are now. The place you are now also has many valuable things that help you grow as a leader. You develop your sense of place when you connect where you are from to where you are at now. A strong sense of the place acts like the roots of a tree – it both anchors and nourishes your growth as a leader.
Sense of Purpose
Children are often reminded to “do what they are told”. We carry this voice into our adulthood and it helps ensure we complete the tasks we are assigned. The leap from worker to leader is accompanied with a greater sense of purpose. We do this because we know why it is important – not just because we are told. How deeply do you understand why you are called to be a leader? A strong sense of purpose inspires, clarifies, and magnifies the impact you have as a leader.
Sharpening Your Senses
As we get older, our physical senses get worse as we use them more. We can choose to get glasses or hearing aids to improve these senses. On the other hand, our leadership senses improve the more we use them.
Reflect on which sense you rely on most as a leader. Is it the right sense to use with the decisions set in front of you? Remember that a plate of food that looks terrible may be the best tasting dish you have ever devoured!
Think about the sense that you use the least. What situations can you sharpen