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Response to Why Leaders Must Feel Pain: It’s really about integrity

My response to Peter Bregman’s Post: Why Leaders Must Feel Pain in the Harvard Business Review:

Dear Peter,

I deeply appreciate your courage for posting this … it’s about damn time people stop trying to “not feel” primary emotions.  Human being are hard-wired to feel emotion.  Our decisions are ultimately driven by emotions.   Leaders make quick, multi-million dollar decisions using intuition.  Intuition comes from the integration of the “low road” and the “high road” as well as information from the outside coming in and information from inside coming  through.

It’s about time corporate America get’s it – we can’t “not feel.”  I’m not talking about dancing naked in the boardroom … I’m talking about integrity. The word “integrity” from the word “integrate” … to integrate who we are into what we do. To do that, we must be willing to integrate our “fragments” into ourselves a whole person. Fragments are a result of the “should’s or “rules of engagement” … Don’t bring your personal life into work. Leave your emotions at the door. Don’t get too close to your employees. Don’t let them see you sweat.

Integration is also the ability to integrate our past into our present and therefore our future ability to make a difference … I believe a pivotal responsibility of effective and sustainable leaders today.

Sixteen years ago, I coined a term “professional intimacy” in an article I wanted to publish. I was told it would be published if I changed the term. I refused and it was never published. I was told that I “shouldn’t” tell people I was incorporate psychology and management or leadership (i.e., self or other awareness, relationship skills or into my coaching or speaking business). Talking about the “soft skills of leadership” was too “touchy-feely” and would “scare clients (mostly male) away.” After spending years of following this advice, I felt exhausted and inauthentic. Now, after 2008, Enron, etc. we are seeing the tipping point.

It’s about time leaders start with the question “Who Am I?” I’m grateful you were willing to speak the truth. I, like you, will continue speak authentically, whether others agree or not.