If leadership is a praxis, something that ‘I’ do (name and surname here, please), then, knowing a little bit about the ‘I’ should help. That is why reflection and self-awareness are so important.
For ‘awareness’, some HR practices have reduced it to 360 degree feedback. As useful and as mis-used as this is, this is not a substitute for self-reflection.
When deepening into that ‘I’, seriously, a stock of little Pandora’s boxes may be opened. It could be scary, also fun, liberating, depressing and God knows what.
One of those little Pandora’s boxes is labelled ‘contradictions’. This is where all of them are stored. We are bound to find them in pairs, the good and the bad, the ones we like and the ones we don’t, the opposites, our Jekyll & Hyde, our Yin and Yang, what we see and the ones other people see in us etc.
Rejecting half of them (the bad ones) is rejecting half of the ‘I’.
I think it was Friedrich Nietzsche ( I am pretty sure but I can’t remember where I got it from, and also I am paraphrasing ad libitum, sorry Fred) who said that the best liberating moment was when he invited all his negative traits, dark sides and flaws to be his friends. Making friends with those, allowed him, will allow us, to invite them to the conversation. Rejecting, abandoning, pretending that they don’t exist, will never lead to any progress.
If we have to ‘rethink our humanity’, as many voices are now saying, for different reasons, including the digitalization of our life, how about starting by inviting our demons for dinner?
Perhaps, to acknowledge our contradictions (in thinking, in attitudes, in values, in behaviours) is a good foundation for the practice of leadership. And, by inviting them all to the table, I am pretty sure our humanity coefficient would increase. A good injection of mental health. A good starting point for the healthier ‘practice of leadership’.
Bring the whole ‘I’ for dinner.