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What’s your leadership identity?

Questions to help you strengthen your foundation 

Are you familiar with the parable about a house built on sand?  

A house built on sand cannot stand when a storm arrives.  A house built on rock will.  Makes sense, right?  It’s a story about our foundations and what we build our life on.

Anything I write in this weekly note comes from my life and the real things I grapple with in leadership.  It also comes from what I observe working with other leaders.

And this year, the theme has been Foundations.

I have felt the fear and uncertainty that comes with an internal storm.  I have observed teams try to hustle to meet deadlines at the expense of best practices in relationships.  I have seen leaders asking, “Can I continue to do this?” when the work is about the demands outside of themselves, and not about what they know to be best.

As leaders, to sustain ourselves in times of change and turmoil, we have to know who we intend to be.

This foundation is our leadership identity.

Maybe to allow ourselves this work of knowing who we long to be and how we long to live and lead, we have to become bored of being busy.  Or maybe just so damn tired that we’re willing to try something other than panic and rush.

Whatever it is, a gift we can all give ourselves is to know ourselves better . . . to spend some time building our house on rock.

What are some of the shifting sands that might be underfoot?

  • Changes in relationships.  Maybe your work BFF left or you’re stuck in a painful dynamic with someone at home.  

  • The system keeps changing its mind.  One day it's attendance metrics that matter, the next it’s your early literacy scores and by Thursday you’re supposed to report on all data measures on everything. Sigh.  

  • What’s worked for you in the past isn’t working any longer.  Maybe your after school run used to keep you sane or the way you ran data teams was the best in the district, but now, those old things aren’t giving you the boost they used to.

  • You please one person or team only to disappoint someone else.  It’s that feeling of, “I just can’t win.”

Questions to help get you to more solid ground:

  • What do I love?  This is another way to ground in core values because what we love is what we value.  

  • What are the nonnegotiables in my leadership?  It’s helpful to know what you stand for, what you’re willing to be fired for, what - no matter what the system does - you will not tolerate in your leadership.

  • What are my preferences as a leader?  Every leader has preferences.  Great leaders transcend their preferences.  It’s important to know what you prefer and how those overlap with your strengths so that you know what complementary skills and aptitudes you need to hire for or cultivate on your team.

  • What helps me listen to my gut?  Leadership can get noisy with opinions and competing priorities.  Pay attention to how you get quiet and check in with your wisdom.

  • What warns me when I am off course?  Just like lights on the dash of a car, we all get signs when we aren’t well.  Maybe we’re taking bad advice, not sleeping, or constantly feeling pain in our jaw.  Whatever the signs, when we can spot them, we can use them to direct us to support.

  • What would abundant support look like for me?  The name of the game was never, “Do it all on your own.”  We are meant to have community, rest, nutrition, spiritual practices, love, and connection.  

I work with leaders and teams on these questions all the time.  They take time and honesty and space.  Answering these questions takes a willingness to slow down and reevaluate the foundation we have built our work lives on.

I recommend support as you give yourself this gift.  You can schedule a free 1:1 time with me to meet and map a plan for your support when you click HERE.

Cheering you on as you consider your leadership identity.

Your coach in life and leadership,



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