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  • Writer's pictureKaren Howells

How Leadership Identity Holds You Steady in Change


The Howells Group Blog - How Leadership Identity Holds You Steady in Change
How can you build your own “weighted keel” as a leader to stay stable in the midst of what ever comes your way?

It’s hard to find the perfect metaphor for 2020, but most of us easily relate to feeling slammed by multiple waves of COVID 19. I’m not a sailor, but I”ll never forget the lesson learned while sailing in Vancouver B.C. Our six and eight year old were with us in a small sailboat skippered by a young man who couldn’t have been more than 20. It started out perfectly; just the right wind, sunny but not too hot, as we tacked along the bright blue waters. But suddenly, the wind picked up and our little boat began lurching from side to side. Our skipper was hyper focused but calm. (I was not!) Grabbing my kids life jackets and pulling them close I shouted anxiously “We’re almost parallel with the water – are we going to sink?!” He shouted back; “it’s ok. It’s very hard to sink these boats. They have weighted keels”. I nodded, having no idea what he meant while saying a silent prayer! As he expertly steered through the spray and flapping sails, he assured us again that we’d be ok. Back on the dock, soaked – but safe, he explained to me that weighted keels stabilize a boat even in the roughest of weather. The keel in the center of the boat automatically helps the boat to right itself even in the roughest of conditions. Though sailing skills are needed, this steadying force was a huge asset to anyone navigating.


Later that afternoon, when we were on dry ground, I realized that a strong and clear leadership identity work much like that weighted keel for leaders. COVID will end, eventually. But other waves and storms WILL come. How can you build your own “weighted keel” as a leader to stay stable in the midst of what ever comes your way?


Those who’ve attended our ACCELERATE Leadership Program in past years have shared that these following truths have had an unmistakable impact in how they lead:


1. CONFIDENCE – BELIEVE YOU ARE A LEADER. Many participants reflect that when they first join our programs they “didn’t really see themselves as a leader”. They had a certain image of a leader, and it didn’t look like them. But once they embraced their role and owned the truth that they were leading ; something powerful shifted. Leadership is not a title, gender, personality style, or some stamp of approval based on resume. It’s a set of skills and behaviors, but it begins with the belief that YOU have agency to create something new, stimulate change and encourage others to improve on the status quo. How you see yourself is key, and influences how others see you,

2. CLARITY – KNOW YOUR DEEPEST VALUES. Leading in a way that reflects your most cherished values not only gives depth and purpose to your work, it shows up as integrity. When our behaviors better match our cherished values – we trust ourselves. And when we stand strong in what we believe, it demonstrates authenticity and people trust us. Because this is so essential, we’re sharing this free values worksheet for you to have access to. It will help you lead from your values, articulate your values and make aligned decisions efficiently.

3. COMPETENCE – GROW YOUR SKILLS CONTINUALLY! Effective leaders know what they know – and what they don’t yet know! Their committed to building skill and adding new abilities is ongoing. There is no finish line to learning; no title or salary guarantee success in this context of constant turbulence. Leading means learning – and applying that learning with increased competence brings confidence and increases clarity.

If you’re realizing you need to gain more confidence, clarity and competence – all foundational keys to leadership success- consider joining our Accelerate Leadership 2021 cohort.

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