June 2024

LEADER PRACTICE No. 15: Where Are You Holding Back?

I recently caught up with an old friend and colleague who works with leaders to solve thorny technology and system change challenges. Because I value his insights, I asked him to give me feedback on my newsletters.

My friend said he loved my monthly dispatches, that he found them to be concise and helpful. (Great! That’s what I was going for!) He also noted that the newsletters that had the most impact were those with links to recordings of practices. When I revealed more of me in my communications, my friend said, he felt more connected to the content. He surmised that other readers would feel similarly. This insight gave me pause.

Sometimes, I hold back. Yes, I’m comfortable sharing personal and professional anecdotes when speaking to large audiences or facilitating development. Clients, colleagues and friends describe me as authentic, a person who is open to being vulnerable and honest when confronting tough topics. I’ll even share cringey personal stories if they promote learning. Yet I have to acknowledge a part of me that fears exposure and tends to shrink to keep me safe. When activated, this safety reflex bends me into a protective stance.

Similarly, a client I consider to be courageous told me that she has been putting off conversations with peers that could change their perceptions and significantly improve their relationships. Simply thinking about those conversations dredged up feelings of vulnerability. Of course, a certain amount of circumspection is wise and, in the right context, appropriate. That said, my friend’s generous feedback and my client’s conversation avoidance reminds us that revealing ourselves can be hard. It can also make us much more impactful. Where are you holding back?


Reflect on your patterns of holding back:
  • When and in what situations does it happen? With whom?
  • Why does it happen? What are you concerned about?
  • How does holding back limit your effectiveness? Do you accept those limitations?
  • In what small ways might leaning-in make a difference?
Dare to ask for feedback! If your request isn’t specific, you can always ask, “To be more effective and/or impactful,”:
  • What could I START doing?
  • What could I STOP doing?
  • What should I CONTINUE doing?

The Conscious Leader Toolkit is taking a summer pause.

We’ll be back in September. I hope you find time to pause and enjoy some good reads during this short break. Looking for recommendations? One of my favorites is The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership by Jim Dethmer, Diana Chapman, and Kaley Klemp.

In the meantime, please check out our recently created archive of past issues if you would like a refresher on any of the practices we have covered to date.

Until next month…

Dana's signature

Founder and Principal Coach