How to Reach Leadership Potential by Doing Work You Love

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership" by Jim Dethmer, Diana Chapman, and Kaley Klemp. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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How can you reach your full leadership potential? Do you love the work you do?

In order to reach your full leadership potential, you must do work that you enjoy. The next parts of the journey include overcoming any fears of success and encouraging those around you to achieve their own goals.

Continue reading to learn how to reach your full potential as a leader.

Being Your Best

The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership notes that learning how to reach your full leadership potential means doing work that you love, that comes naturally to you, and that utilizes your unique skills and abilities. Leaders who reach this state maximize their creativity and motivation, producing high-quality work for their organization. 

(Shortform note: The benefits of finding a role you thrive in may extend beyond the workplace. You may also enjoy better health due to reduced stress; improved relationships due to improved overall happiness; and higher confidence, as you focus on doing the things you’re best at.)

How to Reach Your Full Leadership Potential

To reach your full potential, you must identify what work will enable you to excel and then seek that work. Consider what work you enjoy the most, what work you do best, and what work best utilizes your skills. 

(Shortform note: Here, the authors focus on the internal factors that will help you excel: the things that depend solely on you (your preferences, skills, and talents). However, many external factors—factors outside of your control—can also influence whether or not you excel in a certain role. When searching for your ideal work, consider whether or not your prospective employer values things like creating a positive working environment, supporting employee growth, and supporting employees to achieve their personal goals: These factors will arguably help you to excel. Meanwhile, the lack of them will likely produce a frustrating workplace experience.) 

Next, the authors explain, you must mitigate the fears that can come from chasing success. Many people hold back from reaching their full potential because they’re afraid—that the success won’t last, that it’ll be too much for them to handle, and that they can’t possibly achieve and maintain something so wonderful. To overcome this fear, the authors recommend doing something mundane straight after achieving something incredible—for instance, cleaning your shower just after learning you’ve been promoted to your dream role. This tricks your nervous system into associating extreme success with normality, quieting your fears that the success is too good to last or accept.

Finally, encourage others to reach their full potential and do fulfilling work. Leaders should ask each of their team members what work they find most fulfilling and do their best to integrate this type of work into each person’s responsibilities.

(Shortform note: The authors of Primal Leadership explain that supporting your team members in this way is characteristic of a coaching leadership style. To lean into and develop your coaching abilities, work one-on-one with employees to identify both their career and personal aspirations, and help them create an action plan to achieve them. Further, motivate employees to overcome obstacles and accomplish difficult tasks that might be hindering their progress.)

Rewire Your Brain for Success

Here, the authors recommend intentionally reprogramming your brain so that success no longer scares you. In Awaken The Giant Within, Tony Robbins elaborates on this type of neural conditioning. He explains that our brains connect certain stimuli with either pain or pleasure based on our experiences—these connections are called neuroassociations. When we have painful neuroassociations with something, we fear and avoid it. On the other hand, pleasurable neuroassociations cause us to seek out associated stimuli or experiences again in the future. Robbins notes that we can create new neuroassociations to override painful ones and make us more open to certain experiences. By following the authors’ advice and doing something mundane after achieving success, you arguably form a new neuroassociation that tells your brain success is safe and normal, not something to be feared.

According to Robbins’s explanation, you might make yourself even more inclined toward success by rewarding yourself with something pleasurable after moments of success. After reaching a new level of success, do something that makes you feel happy and supported, like having a nice dinner with your loved ones. Your brain will then associate the pleasure from this activity with being successful, making you more likely to want to achieve more success in the future.
How to Reach Leadership Potential by Doing Work You Love

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  • Why many leadership models are unsustainable in the long term
  • Why leaders must learn to understand and manage their emotions
  • The 15 commitments that leaders must uphold to run an effective organization

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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