Leaders, you’ve got diamonds hiding in plain sight

Leadership | March 13, 2023

There’s an old Buddhist story about an impoverished individual, let’s call her Madeleine, that goes like this: Madeleine was so hungry her stomach hurt. One day, Madeleine tucked her hands into her torn coat pockets. “If only…,” she thought, and gripped the familiar form of rocks caught in her tattered coat lining.

Suddenly, one of the rocks dropped with a thud. Madeleine looked down. On the ground was no rock, but a diamond. All along, everything she wanted and needed  was within reach.

Leaders: You too have diamonds in your coat lining. Let me show you how to find them.

My client Mitch, a VP of Product at a high-growth company, had “sharp elbows.” If something was in his way, he knocked it down. He was successful in getting people to do what he wanted, even if it was through criticism, beratement and fear tactics. So far, this worked for Mitch. He was a VP and had a record of getting things done. To him, having sharp elbows just meant having high standards. “That’s just how I get my people to deliver,” he said. 

Then he got a chance at a promotion. Chief Product Officer. As CPO, he’d be in line for what he really wanted, which was to become Chief Executive Officer. But when Mitch’s colleagues heard he was being considered for the job, they came from all over the office to tell the current CEO not to make him CPO. They even signed a petition advocating against the promotion!

It was humbling for Mitch, but he got the message. Something had to change. He just didn’t know what it was, or where to start looking.

Needless to say, Mitch didn’t get the promotion. He actually left his company and took a CPO title at another organization. That’s when he contacted MettaWorks. 

Like Mitch, so many leaders who come to MettaWorks know that something’s holding them back. They sense, too, that what’s worked for them has stopped working.

Mitch and I dug in together. We started with his so-called problem, having sharp elbows, and drilled down until we reached his reason for wanting to be CEO in the first place. That’s when we discovered that orienting himself toward an external goal was actually working against him. The way forward? Relationship building – with his teammates, yes, but first, with himself. Mitch had found the diamonds in his coat lining. 

At MettaWorks, we guide leaders, through inner work, to their authentic selves. When they do so, leaders increase their influence and impact on their team, with colleagues, and across their industry as a whole.

By the end of our time together, Mitch’s colleagues sought out his opinion and quoted him when he wasn’t in the room. The CEO chose him as a sounding board before making any major strategic decisions. The retention on his team was higher than in any other department.

“Rachel, I wish I’d known,” he said to me. “I wish that when I first got promoted at my last company – I wish someone had just pulled me aside and told me.” 

Leaders, let me be the one to tell you: focus on relationships and you’ll find the diamonds. Relationships (including the one you have with yourself)  are the key to growth, and actualization. 

In my book Who You Are Is How You Lead (Muse Literary; March 27th, 2023), I show how leaders including Mitch learn to pivot their focus to relationships as deliverables, and shift into the mindset necessary for powerful, holistic growth. 

Who You Are Is How You Lead is a comprehensive guide and workbook for visionaries ready to break through – or break-in – to their inner world. In it, I pull back the curtain on the work we do in coaching sessions. I show real scenarios brought to me by clients, detail the steps we took to overcome them, and the results clients walked away with – results that are measurable, and lasting. 

Pre-order a copy of Who You Are Is How You Lead here. Or pick it up in-stores globally and through Amazon.com on March 27, 2023. 

If you’ve found us, the inner work has begun. Let’s take the next step together. Schedule an exploratory call. 

Rachel Rider
Executive Coach, Leadership Consultant