Do you know why the Jedi failed? They were afraid of the Dark.
They rejected the messy, wild, and entirely natural emotions of hate, anger, and fear. Their advice was to ignore these feelings, sedate them, and avoid them. "Control" them.
And what happened? These emotional forces grew stronger right under the Jedi's noses, stole their most powerful and promising member, destroyed everything the Jedi had built, and took over the galaxy. Epic fail, Jedi.
This is exactly what happens to us at work when we avoid the Dark. Perhaps you know leaders that run away at the slightest conflict, that freeze up at the first sign of anger, and would never even pretend they are afraid of anything.
We've all seen falsely-positive, "polished" "leaders" who are unable to have a conversation with anything resembling actual emotions and vulnerability.
They smile but are unable to connect with others in a deep way. They ignore the dysfunction and discontent growing all around them, that others are experiencing, because they don’t know how to go into it.
Eventually, this dysfunction comes to the surface and destroys what they are building. Eventually their own real emotions that they have been ignoring rise up and destroy them, too. They burn out or they break down. Or they explode and they are asked to leave. That's what happens when we refuse to acknowledge the dark. On the other hand...
Darth Vader and the Emperor, despite being way cooler than the Jedi, ultimately failed as well.
The Sith were seduced by the ability of raw emotional power to create major change. Because it does.
Vader and the Emperor actually encouraged dark emotions, using fear-based tactics to motivate massive action (the Death Star) and maintain a strangling grip on the galaxy.
You probably know people who do this in real life. They probably work in your company. We’ve all had leaders that use fear, pressure, and urgency and the threat of punishment as an attempt to get action from us. We've all seen "successful" “strong” ”leaders" who are actually miserable and afraid and passing that around to everyone else.
Fear can create a temporary boost in "results" in the short-term, because people will move faster when they are scared. There is just one problem: everyone hates it.
No one wants to work for these people. No one wants to stay in a culture of fear. Yet this is what most leaders create. And this is why most employees have a great day when their bosses are not there. This is why many employees are constantly searching for a better job. That’s why the Sith are always dealing with rebellion!
In the end, this tactic doesn't work. The Emperor and Vader also failed. Their Death Star burned to rubble. As soon as these leaders are gone, everyone cheers. Don’t be that leader. No Light.
This "Battle" Will Continue Until We Stop Choosing Sides
Both the Jedi and the Sith actually made the same fundamental mistake: they chose sides. In doing this they sowed the seeds of their own destruction. Just like leaders in the real world.
The battle of Light versus Dark is a false dichotomy. All of us are both.
In order to be good leaders (and achieve true Force mastery), we need to stop choosing sides.
You are both sides. All of your people are both sides. If we want to understand them, if we want to inspire them, if we want to motivate them and support them, if we want to help them get a glimpse of what they are truly capable of, we need to meet them where they are, on either side, and see them for who they can become: a master of both.
They might be wearing the blinders of the light or mired in the emotions of the dark. Can you understand and connect with both? Can you help them move forward from wherever they are? This is how the best leaders create positive change.
This is your true nature. Your true nature is bigger than both sides.
How in touch are you with the part of you that is bigger than your positivity and your planning and also bigger than your uncertainty and your difficult emotions? How in touch are you with both your dreams and your fears? How capable are you of communicating from this place?
When we can hold the tension of both our dark and our light we glimpse our real capacity to create change because we are working with our whole selves and can connect with anyone.
When we can mix both the dark and difficult with the positive and inspirational we become able to help others, lead, and create something truly special.
You Are A Master Already
Most of us have experienced this bigger part of ourselves. When we vulnerably and boldly shared who we really are to someone, both our darkness and our light, that someone feels that we are standing more fully in our whole truth. They trust us and see our power. This energy is attractive and contagious.
What is the single greatest skill to harness this power? What is the shortcut that allows the most direct path to accepting and working with both the dark and light simultaneously?
The ability to lead with Love.
If you think Love is irrelevant for leaders, that's why people don't want to follow you.
Love is the ultimate leadership tool that we are looking for. If you have worked for a great leader you have felt this. Great self-leadership and leading others is an act of Love.
Love is what allows your own dark emotions and the emotions of others to transform reality without destroy it or crushing people. Love allows you to embrace emotion and use it appropriately.
Love is also what allows you to stand firm for values and a vision that is important and positive and inspire the loyalty of others to build something meaningful with you.
Love is the bridge that connects our whole selves. Love is how great work of lasting impact gets done.
In this world of 80% disengagement at work, of confusion about “Millennials”, of rapid change and growing uncertainty, your Love for yourself and others is the greatest force you have at your disposal that can navigate all those challenges.
This is where your best solutions will come from because it incorporates your whole self. This experience of your whole self is a direct route to happiness.
We already know how to do this. We already have everything we need to do this. We just don’t because we’ve forgotten that love is a leadership tool. We’ve been choosing sides.
How Do We Lead With Love?
It’s time for you go to Dagobah and train with your long lost Jedi guru: Yourself. Look more deeply into these 4 questions.
1) Can you be vulnerable enough to feel and love your Dark emotions?
- Every one of these you identify and feel helps you better connect with others who are undoubtedly feeling the same.
- When you welcome these emotions as parts of yourself, you can set these emotions free without them taking over you and without you having to react to them in your life. You can love them and let them go.
- I do this every day. I recommend simply 5 or 10 minutes of writing about what you are really feeling every morning. This honors what you feel, this is an act of love. Just write freely with no intention but to express your emotion truthfully. This will set some of these dark emotions free. This will transform your whole day and over time, your whole life.
2) Can you make space for emotions at work to be okay without turning them into drama, energy drains, or reacting in fear?
- Rate yourself on our ability to make space for emotions to be okay at work without making unnecessary drama, on a scale of 1 -10.
- This is not just theory. Google’s research into their highest performing teams showed that “social sensitivity”, which means noticing and responding to the emotions of your colleagues, is one of the key factors for high performance.
- This is also why female leaders are statistically more likely to have a high performing team - most women are more connected with their emotions and the emotions of others.
- Learn to love emotions as important data. Just let them be there to help you understand what is happening in the people you work with. Emotions are data that helps you make decisions and find the right path forward.
- You don’t have to feed them or make them worse or agree with someone who is in a negative spot. Just see them there. Just let it be okay that a negative moment happened. Acknowledge that the feeling is there by affirming that you can see a person is struggling. This allows you to move on more powerfully.
- If you want to get better at this, I recommend you start by reading "Non-violent Communication". (If you want a more hands on experience to build this skill you can get the Digital Chieftain program with us at TNM Coaching)
3) Can you be vulnerable enough to embrace the desire of the Light that is in your heart? Can you stand up for something important and impactful to help peoples lives and the world?
- This is what Millennials crave of their leaders. This is where inspiration and intrinsic motivation comes from.
- I connect with this part of myself every day. I ask what my heart truly wants. I ask how I can do that. I surprise myself with what I can create. This is part of what it means to love yourself and your own life.
- Every action I take from my heart inspires others to do the same. I am trying to act based on my Love all the time because it creates more love. Isn't that what we want in our lives?
- Great leaders answer the Why questions. And they help paint a collective vision that rallies their people. This starts with finding a piece of that vision inside yourself and loving it enough to let it out.
4) Are you willing to love others enough to hold the space open for them to connect both sides of themselves?
- Are you willing to make appreciation, belonging, connection, emotions, and dreams the top priority in your leadership? Nothing else can skyrocket the people around you more. You are the leader, this type of culture is your biggest responsibility.
- Are you a facilitator that can immediately create a safe space for a group to share their feelings and build their collective dream? This is a skill.
- Are you able to help people hold their uncertainty and volatility while at the same time feel their internal security and positive progress? Both sides at once.
You already know how to do these things, you just need to remember. You can see dramatic changes by answering these questions above and trying new behaviors for you that match these ideas.
If you want some help becoming a loving leader that creates something special with those around you, that leads better than the Jedi to take humanity forward in this incredible and crazy galaxy, that’s the kind of thing we at TNM Coaching live for, and why we created the Digital Chieftain program. May the Force be with you.