Last week, I was in a coaching conversation with Tania, a successful senior director and an experienced leader with a high level of self-awareness. Tania knows a lot about her performance gap. Her personal commitment is to trust more in what she believes to be the truth and to share her ideas with courage instead of accommodating the wishes of others when the pressure gets to be too much.
The performance gap is the disparity between what we aspire to be or do as a leader and what we actually do in daily life.
The last few months have been challenging for Tania, with the arrival of a new CEO, the cultural transformation to adjust to, and the kids at home every other day. During our meeting, she shared a part of a conversation with her new CEO, who has the reputation of being a wise leader.
Tania: You know, Pierre, I long for more assertiveness under pressure. It is clear to me who I want to be and what my conditionings are. And still, I totally lost myself these last months.
Pierre: Congratulations, Tania. Now practise.
Although cryptic at surface level, Pierre’s remark, when deconstructed, holds a lot of wisdom.This is what we discovered:
“Congratulations”: Each leader has performance gaps. The lucky ones are those who recognise this and are aware of how difficult it is to fill the gap. Declaring your commitment, like Tania did, is the best starting point for your journey towards exemplary leadership. The tricky part here is to maintain serenity about what is not yet there and stay determined to achieve what is possible. “Now practise”: As Tania experienced, knowledge doesn’t change behaviour. Practise does. For leadership development to stick, we must engage the whole leader — mind, emotion, and body. The art here is to identify an embodied practice that will make your leadership authentic and impactful.
Among others, Tania started an attention practice. She is learning to increase her awareness of the moment when she starts feeling the contraction in her upper chest that sets her into a silent mode. Slowly, she is learnings to release this energy so that sharing her truth no longer seems threatening. It’s a demanding crossroad for Tania, and she is fragile at times, but she understands that this is a crucial moment that will influence her impact for the rest of her life. The first step in practice is often to increase the awareness of what is going on inside that is an obstacle to filling your performance gap. Then, you practice reshaping yourself so that your presence supports your leadership commitment. Want to join the path towards exemplary leadership? Explore your performance gaps and find the personal practice that will allow you to become who you truly are. If you want to know more about Embodied leadership, check my Executive Coaching Programs.
Manu Henrard is a Executive Somatic Coach and an Executive Recruiter based in Brussels. He is also an associate from the Strozzi Institute for embodied leadership. Manu's professional commitment is to help leaders increase meaningful productivity and achieve inner peace. More about his coaching program here.