If you’ve hung out with me for some time, you’ve heard me use the word self-authoring, but what does it actually mean, and why am I so passionate about it?
In a world where we’re constantly making complex decisions, and challenges come by the minute, we can’t let things just happen to us. We can’t be reactive - we have to stand firm in our vision and proactively decide how we’re going to show up.
This is self-authorship. It’s not getting swayed by what gets served up to us, but keeping ourselves, teams and organizations steady despite what’s going on.
Why are self-authoring leaders worth their weight in gold? How does this concept benefit everyone in the organization?
In this episode, we dive into self-authorship and why you can’t lead without it effectively.
Life just hits different when you’re in control of your actions and not just bumping around out there trying to outlive every crisis of the day. -Jen Thornton
[0:00:00.9 JT]: If you've hung out with me for any length of time, you've heard me use the phrase, self-authoring. Since I use the term so much, I thought it was time for me to share with you why I'm so passionate about the concept.
[0:00:17.8 JT]: The landscape of business is changing radically, yet leadership is being taught the same old way it's always been taught. When the world is changing, it's time to bring our leadership styles along for the ride. Thanks to cutting-edge neuroscience, we now have access to new tools and new language that inspires action, collaboration, and innovation in the modern workplace. I started this podcast to bring you the best of these cutting-edge tools, exercises, best practices, and modern leadership strategies every single week. Whether you're a company leader, a corporate visionary, or an entrepreneur, this show gives you new insights into neuroscience and language of leadership, as well as practical steps and tips you can take back to the office.
[0:01:01.4 JT]: So you, can lead your team in a powerful way, keeping your people happy and engaged while achieving your biggest goals. Because no one has ever changed the world by doing things the way they've always been done. I'm your host, Jen Thornton. I'm a talent strategist, an executive coach, speaker, and the founder of 304 Coaching. Now let's fix leadership.
[0:01:22.2 JT]: Do you have an idea or a topic we should discuss here together on Let's Fix Leadership? Send your ideas and your questions directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the ever-evolving landscape of modern leadership, executives and leaders are continuously challenged to adapt and thrive. I mean, we've heard that a million times, right? To meet these challenges head on, a paradigm shift is required. And it's one that moves away from reactive leadership and towards a proactive self-authoring approach. Most people feel like the world is happening to them, and they live in this constant state of reacting, reacting to situations, people's words, people's actions, and they're just basically reacting to what the world is serving up to them. They give all their control over to other people and other situations. Self-authoring, within Kegan's theory, is about knowing the world is spinning and making conscious decisions on how you want to respond to it.
[0:02:29.0 JT]: Most people feel the reaction when they're self-authoring, but because they want to live this life where they are in control, and they want to live a life within their values, they pause before they act on that feeling, and they choose how they want to respond. Or for my sports buddies out there, self-authoring is about playing to win and not playing not to lose.
[0:02:55.4 JT]: Okay, so let's go a little deeper into this idea. Self-authoring is more than just a leadership strategy. It's a philosophy that invites leaders to become the author of their own narratives. It's about not reacting to circumstances, but instead, self-authoring centers on creating this vision and purpose that guides actions and decisions. Self-authoring involves several things. And one of those first things it involves is self-reflection. Leaders must delve deep into their own values, their own beliefs, their own goals. And by understanding themselves on a profound level, they can identify their core principles and their core motivations.
[0:03:41.5 JT]: It allows a leader to self-author their thoughts and their actions based on their personal belief systems and not the beliefs others have about them. They're also really powerful at defining a vision. Self-authoring leaders articulate a clear and inspiring visions for themselves and their organization. This vision is not merely a destination, but a really a guiding star that provides direction and purpose.
[0:04:10.2 JT]: It really allows leaders to filter what matters and not chase every shiny squirrel out there. It's about developing strategies. With a vision in mind, self-authoring executives build strategies that are focused on the customer and the company's specific needs. They don't waste their time chasing every single trend out there, but focus on what could be possible. And typically, that self-authoring executive is focused on innovation. They're focused on the future and that builds long-term success.
[0:04:44.4 JT]: The self-authoring leader is also really good at holding themselves accountable for their actions and their decisions. They understand their choices shape their reality and they own their success and they own their failures. And because of this, they also build environments where others can experiment. And failure is just expected because this type of leader knows without failure, there is no innovation.
[0:05:18.3 JT]: Let's take a quick break from the conversation. Do you have new leaders on your team and you can see their potential, you can see their runway but you can not figure out how to get them across the finish line? Reach out to 304 Coaching and learn more about our brain-based, competency-focused executive coaching.
[0:05:38.5 JT]: And they are learners and adapters. In this insane, crazy dynamic business landscape, self-authoring leaders are committed to continuous learning and adaptability. They see change as an opportunity for growth rather than a threat. And again, their self-authoring ways create an environment for more self-authoring. When everyone is focused on learning and evolving, everyone moves forward together. So why would you wanna do all this work to become a self-authoring leader? Well, there are a million great reasons, but here are just a few I picked for today.
[0:06:17.6 JT]: Let's start with resilience. In today's business world, we are all just holding on for dear life. Leaders encounter unexpected challenges daily, sometimes by the minute. Self-authoring leaders are better equipped to navigate these uncertainties because they have a strong sense of self and purpose. They can pivot, they can adapt, all without losing sight of their long-term goals. To make it simple, when the unexpected happens, they take action. They do not respond. They inspire and empower teams. We've already talked about the environment self-authoring leaders can create because they set a powerful example for their teams.
[0:07:02.1 JT]: They have an unwavering commitment to a clear vision and values, and they inspire employees to align their efforts and engage more deeply with their work. And this empowerment creates more purpose and more productivity. The self-authoring leader is also kicking ass at decision-making. Leaders who operate from a self-authoring perspective make decision with great clarity and conviction. They are less likely to be swayed by external pressures and trends, that shiny squirrel. This allows them to make choices that align with their long-term goals. And let's face it, we could all use a little less decision fatigue in our life. And my favorite thing, a self-authoring leader is also really great at innovation. They encourage innovation within their organization by promoting a culture of learning and adapting. They create an environment where ideas flourish and that typically leads to competitive advantages. And it's okay to make it about you for just a minute. This moment is for you because becoming a self-authoring leader allows you to go beyond that personal sphere. Self-authoring leadership often leads to personal fulfillment. Executives who live in accordance with their goals, their core values, their beliefs, they find a deeper sense of purpose and satisfaction in their life.
[0:08:34.4 JT]: And at the end of the day, life just hits different when you're in control of your actions and not just bumping around out there trying to outlive every crisis of the day. The concept of self-authoring leadership represents a powerful shift from reactive to proactive leadership. Executives who adopt this approach become the architects of their own success. They're steering their organization towards a brighter future. By embracing self-reflection, vision-setting, accountability, adaptability, learning, all the things we talked about, they not only thrive in a modern business landscape, but they also inspire and empower those around them.
[0:09:17.8 JT]: And in the end, self-authoring leadership is not just a strategy, it's a philosophy that can transform the way executives lead and how they live. And if you want to fix leadership, become a self-authoring leader.
[0:09:37.3 JT]: Thanks for listening to Let's Fix Leadership. By hanging out with me today, you're already on your path. If you're looking to learn more and to see if your company is a good fit for our coaching and leadership education, then hey, visit 304coaching.com. If you got value out of this podcast, share it with a friend, and it would mean the world to me if you would leave a thoughtful review and a rating on iTunes. Thanks again for listening, and I appreciate your work in fixing leadership.