Challenging The Self: How The Leader Must Change

Before we can reconnect to, internalize, or integrate something with which we were originally fused, we must first distinguish ourselves from it
(Kegan, 1994)

As leaders, we have a vital role to play within organisations, enabling the best from every individual we work with and creating a structure within which all can thrive. We all, of course, bring our experiences and attitudes to our working life, and the way we have been shaped will impact upon the type of leader we are. However, this does not have to be a fixed or static situation, and it is possible – although not always easy – to transform our consciousness and develop a more effective and holistic method of leadership that is in line with an Equality-based perspective.

Learning to overcome experience and develop a new and healthier way of perceiving the world can only be a good thing, but it is not necessarily a painless process. Analysing our stories can challenge and stretch us, but this can present an opportunity for growth unlike any other – and the potential that it can unlock, for our personal lives as well as our business interactions, is almost impossible to imagine.

Re-Creating Yourself As A New Leader

Any kind of self development that leads to a clearer knowledge of the attitudes and values that shape us can be uncomfortable and difficult. Asking yourself the following questions could help you to discover areas in which you could benefit from some deeper work, and to identify the ways you may be restricting your business without realising it.

  • Am I living as the most authentic version of myself?
  • Do my behaviours and the attitudes I display reflect my own true nature?
  • Are there contradictions in the way I act that create conflicts within my personal and working life?
  • What are the forces that are pushing me to act in the ways that I do?
  • Am I stuck in a rut, giving and receiving the same as I always have?
  • Am I open to change?


The last of these questions may be the most crucial, and it is important that, whatever result you are hoping for, you are ready to implement the changes that will lead you to it. In In Over Our Heads (1994), Robert Kegan argues that conflict precedes resolution – we must look critically at what is informing our actions and consider a radical shift to a worldview that can sustain change and growth on a much deeper level.

Moving through the process of informed change necessarily leads us to evolve to a different way of thinking, transcending the barriers to growth that we place upon ourselves. This shift from informational learning is the key to real change, and Kegan argues that it can only occur when we develop the ability to step back, taking an objective view that allows us to reflect on that which is taken for granted and see things from a different perspective. This is a complex process, and an experienced coach is an invaluable ally as you move in this direction.

Your Business, Re-Framed

Kieth Deats is a specialist in Equality-Based Practice and has committed his lifetime’s work and doctoral practice study to addressing equality at every level of society as a practitioner. He is driven to enable this with individuals, teams and leaders. He currently partners with peer practitioners and entrepreneurs, working to develop frameworks that introduce and integrate Equality-Based practices and management actions to update and evolve their enterprises. The goal is to sustain and increase rates of growth, with a determination to see each other’s success and the wellbeing of leaders and their organisations as a priority for Modern Enterprise.

Kieth is available to give talks, and enable the design and implementation of Equality-Based Practices in your own settings, and is contactable via