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How To Avoid Being A Toxic Leader In 3 *More* Ways (Part 2)

If you want to build strong connections with your community, become the leader you want to be personally/professionally, and do so without betraying your values, read on!

Last week we chatted about the first three ways to avoid being a toxic leader listed below. For the sake of these articles, I'm defining toxicity as behaviours that leave people around us feeling small, powerless, alone, unseen, unheard, and/or misunderstood. If you're here, you care about people, want to reduce harm, and increase the positive impact you can have on your on life and on others. The thing about toxicity is that it can be an insidious form of violence. So, let's get back into constructive behaviours to practice over time:

  1. Practice continuous learning *and* unlearning

  2. Practice ABCs

  3. Commit to Why and root in purpose time and time again

  4. Learn to repair and build community

  5. Practice self-attuning

  6. Learn with, from, and alongside the best

4. Learn to repair and build community

Whether we wish to become the leaders we want to be in our personal/professional lives, as the saying goes: 'wherever we go, there we are.' To me, this signals an opportunity that whatever we learn in any aspect of our lives can be repurposed in other areas. Learning about how we connect, repair, and build relationships with our communities matters. Whether it's the community we want to influence at work or at home, we're talking about maintaining relationships, cultivating trust, and navigating challenges.

Based on neuropsychology, learning to repair is key to our human development. To keep it simple, practicing repair means learning how to recover from conflict or mis-attunement in a way that builds deeper trust and greater relational safety. Positive repair is a key example of safe co-regulation where each person's nervous system can connect and recognize physiological safety with the other. In many ways, we can tell much more about a relationship based on how we repair after conflict than based on how skilled we are at avoiding it in the first place. Ultimately, relational ruptures are inevitable because we each have multitudes within us, different communication styles, and experiences that sometimes collide. And. Healthy interdependence, where we know that we can depend on ourselves *and* others, *depends* (pun intended) on deep relational ruptures being few and far between meaningful experiences and repair.

I invite you to consider 3 key questions:

a) Have I ever experienced a meaningful relational repair after conflict or mis-attunement where I left feeling increased physiological and psychological safety with that person?

b) If so, what about that repair increased trust after conflict and how might I bring those ingredients with me when I practice repairing with others?

c) If not, what about it led to further disrepair or relational loss and what might I learn from that experience moving forward based on how we all showed up?

5. Practice self-attuning

When we start to name all the moving pieces in becoming the leaders we want to be, it's easy to fall into the trap of self-monitoring instead of self-attuning. What's the difference, you ask? To me, self-monitoring is about control whereas self-attuning is about understanding. Why is that difference relevant, though? Because we're more likely to meet others based on how we meet ourselves. Understanding, to me, is rooted in curiosity, loving kindness, safety, and ease. In my opinion, these are vital ingredients in building trust, inspiring confidence, and fueling forward movement.

The more we understand our own side of things, the less likely we are to project our own insecurities, assumptions, and mis-attunement onto others personally/professionally. The thing about control is that, on some level, it demands perfection from ourselves and others. On the one hand, perfection is almost the direct antonym of human relationships. On the other, understanding leaves room for the likely very imperfect process of learning, building community, and practicing how to repair.

I invite you to consider 3 key questions when practicing self-attuning:

a) How might I practice asking for support on a regular basis?

b) How might I practice building rest and recovery periods into any personal or professional project?

c) What might become available to me and my communities by connecting with each other from a place of understanding instead of control?

6. Learn with, from, and alongside the best

This one is pretty self-explanatory *and* I invite you to consider 4 key questions:

a) Keeping these six, non-toxic behaviours in mind, what types of leaders do I want to learn with?

b) Who might I now think of as the 'best' to learn from?

c) How might self-attuning help me create personal/professional projects alongside the communities I deeply care about?

d) What attitudes and belief systems do I need to practice leaving behind in order to show up in alignment with my values?

Check out more articles on becoming the leader you want to be here and please let me know your thoughts on this two-parter. It's been a joy to share these learnings with you in this series format!


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