Let Them See What You Believe


“If you knew me you would understand.”

One of our opportunities as leaders is to bring our values and beliefs into the open for others to see. Our actions may be confusing or even appear contradictory if we leave it to people to guess where we are coming from. When we provide a framework that allows others to understand our motives and actions we give our team the benefit of context. To make this possible there are important steps we can take.

  • Reflect upon, understand and shape our beliefs.
    As leaders it is important that we take the time to learn what we believe. This is different from what we “think” we believe. It requires close examination of our actions, reactions and emotions.  When we discover our true beliefs we may find that some of these beliefs are harming rather than helping us and that we need to make changes to better align with our values and the vision we have for our lives. This is a cycle we should repeat often. If we are open and willing to fearlessly examine our choices these beliefs will continue to evolve throughout our lives.
  • Openly share our beliefs, at least as it relates to our leadership philosophy.
    We can speak to our beliefs and approach to leadership with our team and continue to reinforce those ideas during individual conversations. This will create accountability and encourage us to act in alignment with our words. As different events occur where we are called upon to act, and do so in a manner consistent with our stated beliefs, we will increase the confidence and security the team feels about our leadership. The opposite is also true, when we act erratically, inconsistently, and provide no context for our actions, we create an environment of uncertainty and even fear.
  • Invite others to share their beliefs and be open to letting them influence us.
    Because our beliefs are subject to our unique life experience they will sometimes come into conflict with beliefs held by others. In these moments it is important to listen and try to understand the source of the disconnect. In some cases we may truly disagree and this will require further reflection, communication or action to resolve; in other situations the gap may simply be a misunderstanding and we find that after talking it out we are not so far apart. In every case these discussions provide the opportunity to reflect on what we believe and consider the possibility that we may need to revisit our position.
  • Seek an honest, outside assessment of our alignment.
    It’s easy to think we are acting in ways that agree with our stated beliefs. Yet we are all capable of significant rationalization and self-deception. It can be difficult to open ourselves up to feedback that contradicts the perception we have of our selves but the risk is worth the reward. By asking our team for this level of honest feedback we not only create a path to improve our leadership effectiveness, (and our own self-esteem), but also strengthen our bond of trust with those we serve. When we admit where we have missed the target, and make the required changes to our behavior, we model a way of leading that deepens our connections and influences others to follow in our footsteps.

When we let others “see what we believe” we open the door to positive growth for ourselves and for our team. Have you had an experience with sharing and living your beliefs as a leader that might benefit others? I’d love to hear your story.

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2 thoughts on “Let Them See What You Believe

  1. This is such an awesome post Scott filled with truth.

    Context is critical for most everything we say and do. Lacking that context, people (and ourselves) are left living in the land of our own assumptions and more often then not, it’s not an accurate place to live. I know The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz (excellent book BTW…) suggests ‘Don’t Make Assumptions’…this is easier said then done.

    All of us make assumptions..about many things….DAILY…whether we realize or not. Whether we are conscious of it or not.

    So if assumptions are sort of a ‘given’ in life, accepting that we need to provide context regularly can actually save us time and some conflict in the long run.

    You’ve shared so many valuable insights that I’m not going to have to time to comment on all of it so I’ll share just one more based on what you said here:

    ‘As leaders it is important that we take the time to learn what we believe. This is different from what we “think” we believe.’

    This immediately reminded me of a Soul Biography by Nic Askew titled: The Possibility of Men


    At one point in the film, the subject says (Owen Williams),

    ‘I can say things and actually believe some of what comes out of my mouth, and it’s not real. So the men who have actually challenged what I wanted to do, what I said I have done, what I’ve claimed I want to make happen in the world. When they’ve challenged, am I really committed to that? Am I willing to do whatever it takes? They have so served me to have me see what’s real for me. What’s an illusion and what’s real. I can’t do that by myself. None of us can.’

    Please note that although this short film is about men and for men, my context in mentioning is not meant to be gender specific. I’ve known just as many women, including myself, that have struggled with these same issues. None of us can do it by ourselves and that’s the point. Other people can serve to help us see the gap between our thoughts and actions. Granted, when there is conflict, our gaps our exposed in rather insensitive ways. With people who love and care about us..sincerely…have the best opportunity to do it constructively. In ways that won’t do or cause more damage.

    Thanks for sharing such great insights Scott!

    Liked by 1 person

    • scott_elumn8 says:

      Great additions Samantha. Thank you! Your points line up very well with the message I was trying to convey. It is definitely something I struggle with as well. It’s easy to assume people get where you are “coming from” or will challenge you when they don’t but that is rarely the case unless you are quite intentional about it.

      Liked by 1 person

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