There is a myth that authority and leadership looks and sounds a certain way. Traditionally, this has been the expected look and voice pattern of a white, well-educated male. And, as a society, we’ve insidiously allowed that strangely ingrained falsehood to remain and grow deep roots. But it’s completely false. Leadership does not have a…

EP #104

Episode 104: Leadership Isn’t Telling People What To Do

There is a myth that authority and leadership looks and sounds a certain way. Traditionally, this has been the expected look and voice pattern of a white, well-educated male. And, as a society, we’ve insidiously allowed that strangely ingrained falsehood to remain and grow deep roots. But it’s completely false.

Leadership does not have a specific look nor sound. Rather, it has characteristics. First of all, authority does not automatically equal leadership. One can have authority but not really be a leader or one can have and be both. Secondly, leadership isn’t telling other people what to do. That is authority. Leadership is so much more. Let’s talk about these important distinctions.

“What if it isn’t authoritarian approach? ‘Do what I say’. What if it’s more, ‘Hey, I’m doing this thing… Do you wanna come?… What if your primary role was the nurturing of and development of the future that you imagine?” – Kris Plachy

What You’ll Learn

  • Traditional look of authority
  • Authority isn’t automatically leadership
  • Analyzing what we’ve known
  • Leading with your voice
  • Presence not authoritarian
  • Production of fear isn’t leadership

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Well, hello and welcome to the Leadership Is Feminine Podcast. I’m Kris Plachy and I wanna talk to you today at a high and then a granular level about leadership. Let’s go.

So the title of this podcast is Leadership Isn’t Telling People What to Do, and I wanna really dig into the work and the discussion around leadership. This is a really big topic and I don’t know why I got kissed with this thing that I wanna talk about it and think about it regularly, but I just think it’s so important. And I’m ingesting a lot of insight and a lot of information from a lot of different people.

Most recently just started, on the recommendation of some of my clients, listening to Samara Bay’s book, Permission to Speak, where she’s talking a lot about authority and how all of us have just insidiously and socially been taught what authority looks like. An authority looks like a white, educated male, and even the sound of authority sounds like him, proverbially. That thing.

And so to me, there’s this question that I keep asking, like, what does it really mean to be a leader? Because I think there’s a lot of people who claim authority and then followers grant that person authority, and then they become sort of defacto leaders, because people are following them. But are they really leaders? Or are they just asserting enough authority that people who want to be led, like the safety of being guided by a leader, want to know that someone else is really doing the heavy lifting and protecting them? They’ll follow that authority.

And since we know what authority looks like, at least what we’ve been taught that it looks like, it’s not surprising that there’s still so many educated white men in positions of leadership. But is that leadership or is that authority? It’s just my brain. I don’t know the answer. I just ask questions. But as women, we have to ask them. You have to ask this of yourself. Because even as you listen to people giving you guidance about how to lead, how to manage your business, how to show up in your company, you are oftentimes getting wisdom that’s coming from people who want you to look like, act like, feel like presence like an educated white man who has authority. But is that leadership?

All we have is what we’ve known. We don’t see into the future. We just know what we’ve had. And what we know too, before there was all the- there’s a lot of history. There’s a lot of stuff here that people have proven. I’m not here to have that argument. All we know is that somewhere, several thousand years ago when Christianity was born and religion was born – religion, not necessarily confusing that with belief and spirituality, okay, let’s just be clear -that there was a lot more reverence thousands and thousands and thousands of years ago for female wisdom. Women were the healers, sages of the world, and there was reverence for that. And then there was this sort of,episode, and I’m sure it was over hundreds of years where the voice of a woman in general was slowly but surely cut down and silenced.

And so now here we stand as women worrying, trying, feeling, apologetic for trying to find our voice again. But what does that have to do with leadership? If you are an entrepreneur and you’re running a business, are you a leader? I don’t know. Do you wanna be? What does it mean? Are you an authority? Are you just someone who knows things, but you’re not really a leader? You’re not really leading people, you’re just authority. You’re an authoritarian voice in a mass of people who just want to be led.

I titled this podcast that leadership isn’t telling people what to do. That’s just authority. That’s just an influence. When you want to think about your business, you need someone who’s gonna tell people what to do. You need someone who’s directing the activities of the team, of the business. In most spaces and places we call that management. Management is the deployment of, and the oversight of the policies and the practices and the procedures that drive the results of the business.

If you’re running a seven figure business, you need a manager on your team, a hundred percent. If you don’t have a manager on your team, that means you’re managing. You cannot lead the same way that you manage. You cannot manage the same way that you lead. And there’s a lot of people who are “visionaries” who are terrible managers. They don’t know how to manage people, and honestly, they don’t want to. And I imagine there’s a lot of you listening to this who are like, “Yeah, that’s me. I’m a terrible manager, but then what’s the alternative?” Who are you? You’re a visionary? Okay. What does that mean? You just have great ideas? What does that mean?

So if you’re in the midst of this, if you’re trying to swim through this channel – because that’s to me where you hit that seven-figure mark, that’s when this all becomes much more prescient because the business can’t run by itself. You have to have people help you. You’ve built this business, and maybe you’ve built this business because you are an exceptional doctor, an exceptional accountant, an exceptional designer, an exceptional preparer. You’re great at what you do and you built the thing cuz you’re great at what you do, but you haven’t figured out how to manage people to do what you do. And you may never be able to.

This is what I’ve been telling my clients. I don’t know that everybody should ever be managers. I don’t know that you as a visionary need to ever manage anybody other than the people that report to you directly. So you have to understand how to manage people, but you don’t have to be the manager of people. And I wanna give you that permission.

I want to teach you and talk to you about how to lead with your voice, with your dream, with your creative force. Who is she? Because I’ll tell you who she isn’t. She isn’t the version of you that’s working 80 hours a week, that’s exhausted, that is over-deciding, under-resting, over-working. That woman is ungrounded and exhausted and that woman cannot sustain what she’s built. You must learn that management is the answer and you must understand the behavior that goes into management.

But do you need to be amazing at managing? No. But the people that you hire to manage, do. So your role as a leader is to show people the possibility of a future that doesn’t exist yet when they commit to the outcome, and then the steps to make it happen. So we often call that strategy, right? You see the vision, you see what you want. Now how do we do that?

And I think that not all visionaries are ever, ever, ever gonna be good at managing. They’re good at telling people what to do, and they’re good at doing that to a certain extent. And then you gotta stop because you cut off the very thing that made this business so gorgeous. So one of the things that I’ve talked with a lot of my clients about, and even have referred to here on the podcast, is the notion of really recreating what it means to hire people and have people work with you.

We have a model that was built out of basically what I started this podcast with, which is there’s a really smart white dude who’s in charge and everybody goes and works for him. And they get money and benefits and safety and security, and he gets rich. Now, there’s all sorts of backlash now about that. There’s a lot of backlash about capitalism. Okay, I like capitalism. I think we all can benefit from our ideas, and to me, that’s what capitalism is. I don’t like the exploitation that has become associated with it, and I think in a lot of cases it’s true. Like, a lot of the cases, right?

But you as a woman, you’re so much wiser. You don’t have to keep doing what everybody else has been doing. What if there’s another way to do this that is in aligned with who we are as women, with the skills that we have as women, with the desires that we have as women with the truth, the unequivocal truths that we know deep in our wisest parts of our soul about what it means to elicit success and engagement from other people.

And what if it isn’t authoritarian approach? “Do what I say.” What if it’s more, “Hey, I’m doing this thing over here. Do you wanna come? Do you wanna be a part of this thing that I’m building? Because if you wanna be a part of this thing that I’m building, here’s what this thing needs from you. Would you like to do that? And if you say yes to that, will you agree to meet it? Will you agree to do it regularly? Will you agree to be a co-creator of a dream? Will you agree to be an accountable person who accepts responsibility for herself and himself, if she’s going to be a part of this co-creation?

“Will you, as the leader, agree that instead of telling people how to fit into a box, you will invite them to bring their best selves knowing they will outshine any to-do list you could come up with? What if your primary role was the nurturing of and the development of the future that you imagine, not the steps to get there.”

What if you trusted that there were people on the planet who would do that with you, and that you knew that if they showed up and they said yes, and then they didn’t do it, it’s okay. But we let them go and they move on. What if we didn’t get so triggered by people not meeting an expectation? What if we just decided that’s part of the human experience and we can move forward regardless?

What if the future that we know is possible, because of the work we’re here to do, was so powerful that we saw it so clearly that we would never become so emotionally wrapped around the axle by something that happened today with one person on the team. What if we didn’t see ourselves as authorities? And we didn’t fit into this box of how everybody else thinks you’re supposed to look and act like as a leader? And instead, you presented who you are, how you want to speak, how you want to be heard, what you want to represent in the world.

The box keeps people safe, allegedly. It’s why so few people step out of it. It’s why there are so few entrepreneurs who thrive, because it’s uncomfortable. There’s no boundaries. There’s no rules. So what do we do? We look to create them so that we feel safe. We look at what everybody else is doing so we can feel safe. Like, “Oh, well, I’m doing it like her, so I must be doing it right.”

No, that’s not leadership. Leadership is actually being on your own, love. It’s deciding, “I’m gonna put a stake in the ground right here. I’m gonna say, ‘This is what I’m up to. You interested?'”

You’ll be alone until you’re not. Is it that important to you? Is the future that you see that important to you? Is the calling that you have that important to you, that you would be willing to do that? Not everybody says yes to that, and that’s okay. But I would even say to the followers, to the people who listen to this podcast who work for other people, and I know you don’t like that term, but listen, there’s truth in it. But you can still have expectations of yourself and others.

Are you following people because of their authority? Are you following people because they are leading you? They are inviting you to a future that feels amazing. Anyone who sits in a position of authority that is inviting you to a future that’s terrifying, is not a leader. They are using their authority to steal your critical thinking and put you in a position of fear so that you will not object and you will just follow. That is not leadership.

Leadership believes in a new future that’s incredible, whatever it is – amazing new footwear, amazing new gadget, amazing new platform. What is it? What is this future of this person who is leading? Those are the people that we wanna give our attention to. The rest are just claiming the leadership space in your life through authority, and that’s familiar.

And as humans, we’ve gotta get better because we’ve just repeated this pattern for centuries. And we laugh at the ones who came before us. We’re doing it all again. So if you’re in a position of authority because you have your own business, I really want you to ask yourself, “Am I stepping into leadership?”

And if you don’t know how, raise your hand. Because the journey of a leader, honestly, I believe the gift on the other side is a vision accomplishment than was bigger than you ever thought possible. A group of people aligned to what you wanna create in the world that absolutely melts your heart and makes it sing at the same time. That the gift of you being willing to invest in yourself as a leader, not as a manager, will change your life and it will also change the lives of everyone that you touch. What do you think, I wonder? Leaders don’t tell people what to do. Leaders tell people what they see is possible in the future, and they invite them to co-create it.

In other news, are you on my private subscriber list? If not, why not? Our private subscribers get to find out about things that nobody else gets to know about, and you certainly will get to find out about what we’re up to right now with some big changes. You’ll be invited to a preview experience, but only if you’re on the private subscriber list. How do you get on the private subscriber list? You’re dying to know. Go to KrisPlachy.com and scroll down just a little bit. You’ll see a little green button that says, “Join the List”. Go put your name right there, and we will make sure that you get the updates that you have now earned, because you are a private subscriber.

We’ll see you there.

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