What do over-performance, powerlessness, and misuse of power have in common? ‘The wrong employer.’ When dysfunctional backgrounds and survival strategies are in charge, we hurt ourselves and those around us. We also miss out on the blissful power of being our true selves (having ‘the right employer’) and acting with empathy. It’s time to recalibrate the world (to the truth) and put heart-driven leadership on the agenda.
I might as well make this clear up front – I’m very passionate and opinionated about this topic. So, now you’ve been warned – it’s up to you if you want to read on.
We have all seen or experienced bad leadership. It shows up in different ways. The one I’m particularly interested in is leadership that lacks equality and justice, that values goals at the expense of people, and that acts out of fear and scarcity rather than trust and abundance. We are talking about leaders who claim power for themselves rather than serving and supporting. They have prioritized performance at very costly levels. Some might even lose their family and support network on the way to the top. And then realize too late that it’s a very lonely place to be.
All of this due to the fact that they carry the pattern from their survival roles from childhood into adulthood; this is what I call ‘the wrong employer.’ I don’t mean the wrong company or the wrong boss. Let’s make one thing clear: corporate structures are there for a reason, and there is nothing wrong with climbing the ladder. But what is vital for your well-being is WHAT drives you to get there.
It all comes down to your (unconscious) driving forces.
The cost of ‘the wrong employer’
Our past plays an essential role in this context. As a child, we are both given and adopt different roles in the family. In dysfunctional families, a child has to adapt to its parents in order to survive and not be abandoned. It creates survival strategies in order to live and be loved (no matter what it takes), and finds its role and place where they feel important and get attention. A child who is only seen by their parents when they perform will carry this pattern with them the rest of their life as a way to know that they matter.
As the child grows into adulthood and gets a job, this pattern of over-performance continues. Companies appreciate and reward this behavior. This often leads to a higher salary, more responsibilities, and this person’s efforts to become outstanding tend to increase with their number of working hours. This leads to promotions and better titles – but the person cannot manage a team. Their self-esteem is low, and the only way to increase it is through performance (maintaining false self-esteem).
This is a classic example of a person who has ‘the wrong employer’.
It illustrates the big problem when we carry our survival roles from childhood into adulthood – both in our relationships and in our work environments. We often see that managers and leaders who have performed their way to the top in this way demand employees to constantly out-perform themselves. They drive down morale. If they’ve severely mismanaged things, they tend to cover it up. Some even get severance pay. And history repeats itself at the next company.
The driving force of all of this originates from the child with a painful background. A grown-up acting on the basis of their survival strategies can be both nasty and costly. It is not rare to want to become a leader if that is what you missed out on in your own upbringing. When we act on the basis of ‘the wrong employer,’ it’s often common that many people suffer. Few dare to stand up and say: This is not okay.
We see misuse of power all over. Just like people who violate the weak, company leaders try to save their own skin at the expense of the whole company or when political forces become heartless. Hiding behind titles and putting pressure on innocent people is a very common way of misusing power and figures in all sectors and at every level of society. Here the common man does not stand a chance. And the one who dares to speak up is often silenced.
Honestly, it’s not the kind of society or corporate environment I support or for which I hope.
More heart-driven leadership, thank you
The good news in all this is that in our deepest wounds lies our greatest potential. Everyone who acts based on ‘the wrong employer’ can release their blocks – meaning heal their wounds – and find their true potential.
And that’s the whole point of finding ‘the right employer.’
You act from the heart.
Here is where the true power is.
When you become heart-driven, you act as one unit – yourself – and your heart tunes you into empathy and presence. When you know your true self, your driving force becomes genuine. You don’t need “to play a role” – yourself is enough. It takes less to do more, and all of your actions become congruous. No matter the context or talent needed, you are your authentic self. This benefits you and many others.
Personally, I have succeeded in healing my wounds regarding powerlessness by releasing my blocks. My highest potential is serving others as a leader (and using my talent for releasing blocks). To stand up and say, “this is not okay” when I see misuse of power. To help people heal their deepest wounds, and lead them in the right direction. I’ve learned to master my own inner leadership. This is needed in order to lead others – with good intentions. To be an important part of and a worthy representative of the universe as a whole. Yes, it sounds BIG, and it is – I don’t dare to shout that out loud (just now).
Leadership is power. To be a leader is to see other people’s potential, encourage and support them to become who they truly are meant to be. To be a leader is to have the guts to see your own dark side in history and your role in your (soul) family system. And to have the guts to do something about it. To be a leader is to be a true version of who you are, no matter what talent of yours you use or what context you are in. You don’t need a title to lead. You can lead yourself, your family, and four-footed friends, community, country, or the world. What is vital is that you are aware of the values that drive you, and that they are genuine. Inner leadership also means to standing up for yourself and shouldering your own parenthood. To meet your own needs, and be your own anchor when the storms hit. Congruous and authentic. And by being that kind of leader, you’ll be able to help others find their ‘right employer’ too.
The thing is: great leaders don’t set out to be leaders.
They set out to make positive change by serving people – for themselves and others.
They lead others to transformation – and help them discover their purpose and potential.
And most importantly:
heart-driven leaders gain a following because of who they are – not because of the position they hold.