Leadership Competencies

No One Has My Back

So many of the CEOs and Key Executives in my Vistage Groups have painful back issues of various types that it spurred me to consider it as a leadership issue versus as simply individual problems and complaints. At this point, it has been well documented that there is a “mind/body connection” and that stress has a lot to do with our physical well being. We live in stressful times and being a leader certainly has its challenges. I am sure that the physical diagnoses for the back issues would vary, but there is also another way to look at this. Let’s take a metaphysical approach, more of a “what could this be about from a stress manifestation” perspective. In the realm of the metaphysical, physical issues are often seen through the lens of metaphor. From that angle, what I see as a common theme among the leaders having these back issues is a sense of “no one has my back.”

While I raise this perspective I am not saying that the back issues aren’t physically real, or that no doctor’s help is required, but I am saying that examining the core beliefs underneath your stress could be important. A belief that no one has your back, for example, will lead to emotional suffering on your part but may also start to show up physically. When this happens your effectiveness will be reduced and you may wind up diminishing or suppressing those around you. Worst case, your team may see you as unsupportable, killing their sense of excitement about their own work, and not open to feedback, among other things.

In a number of cases, I have found the group member in question feels they are working really hard, always having to fix other’s work or do it themselves for it to be right, and that no one is looking out for them. Generally a sense of loneliness and some version of “I’m all alone,” “no one supports me,” or “I have to do it to for it to be right” are beliefs very close to the surface.

There is an excellent chance that the people around you really would like to support and contribute to you and also be high performers on a winning team. If you have beliefs like those listed above they will limit your ability to recognize this and keep you from seeing potential support and taking action to empower others.

If you recognize these feelings or have similar complaints, ask yourself what might be underneath your mental and perhaps physical complaints?  If you dig really deeply into your own story, do you have a limiting belief like the ones in this article? Attempting to cure that pain by working harder, being the super hero, and demanding actions that disrupt others to meet your needs will only leave you in a vicious circle and intensify the isolating sense of “no one has my back.”

If you resonate with this topic it’s time to own up to the ways you have been limiting yourself with your mental constructs. Take some time to reflect and consciously identify what you would like to have different in your work experience and in your experience with your team. Instead of moving forward on automatic pilot, take some time to alter your behavior and approach and see if you don’t get different results by doing this. 

You may find yourself having a far more effective and less stressful year in 2013.

Category: Leadership Competencies

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About the Author: Dwight Frindt

“What does it require from a leader to create team member focus, collaboration, and effective action particularly in times of externalities that create tremendous stress?” Such questions have driven Dwi

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  1. markallenroberts

    January 11, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    The back issues are from going it alone as I discussed in my blog http://www.nosmokeandmirrors.com/2010/12/03/leader-you-dont-have-to-go-it-alone/
    It is the strangest thing….if that same CEO wants to improve his or her golf game they hire a instructor. If they want to get fit they hire fitness trainer.
    But when it comes to our business we feel we must tough it out…after all thats what you are getting paid the big bucks for right?
    You are getting paid to create a vision that insures company owners and stakeholders see a strong return.
    When I struggled with this issue myself a coach reminded me “none of us are as smart as all of us, if you are struggling get help.
    Once I did our results improved and my lower back issues went away.
    I enjoyed your post,

  2. Hi Mark, Many thanks for your comment and for sharing your blog. This notion of “going it alone” as a leader is an old one and hard to break, but it’s important as the big picture shifts and changes. Leaders must shift their mind set to one of collaboration. The “go it alone” model just doesn’t really work.

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