Vikings, Victims and Visionaries

I describe ‘gems’ as those moments in coaching when I get goose bumps; déjà vu experiences and profound ‘aha’ connection as something becomes very clear. 

I had such a moment when a female leader shared one of her grandmother’s stories with me. 

She was told at a young age that when encountering judgement and prejudice in her life, she had 3 choices: 

  • be a warrior and fight back. This meant that there would be times when she would have to fight, and it wouldn’t be an easy path. She may become accustomed to fighting, needing to stay in control and dominate others, exerting power to self -protect
  • submit to being a victim – take what comes your way, lose your voice, be taken advantage of and walk away 

There was also a third choice. 

  • become a visionary ~ a person who focuses on self- development and personal growth, who thinks about and plans the future with imagination and/or wisdom. 

A quick search for synonyms for ‘visionary’ highlight words such as “inspired, imaginative, creative, inventive, insightful, ingenious, enterprising, innovative, perceptive, intuitive, far-sighted, prescient, wise, talented, gifted and resourceful

When I asked her which path she had chosen, she said “each and every day I use all three. And I recognise that neither warrior or victim bring out the best in me. They leave me shame filled and wishing I had found the courage to speak up, lean in and live true to my values”.

My gem moment was recognizing that she was speaking directly to the teaching of Brene Brown in her book, Daring Greatly

Brene recognised the Viking or Victim shields adopted by leaders when they felt uncomfortable with the concept of vulnerability. These leaders tended to have a worldview of ‘winners or losers; success or failure, crush or be crushed’. Many of the Viking leaders Brene interviewed attributed their beliefs to the values they had been taught growing up, or the experience of surviving hardships. 

So what does it take for either Vikings or Victims to become Visionary leaders, or in Brene Brown’s words, leaders who ‘Dare Greatly ‘?

Brene describes this better than anyone in her “The Daring Greatly Leadership Manifesto”

We want to show up, we want to learn, and we want to inspire

We are hardwired for connection, curiosity, and engagement

We crave purpose, and we have a deep desire to create and contribute

We want to take risks, embrace our vulnerabilities, and be courageous

When learning and working are dehumanized – when you no longer see us and no longer encourage our daring, or when you only see what we produce or how we perform – we disengage and turn away from the very things that the world needs from us: our talent, our ideas, and our passion

What we ask is that you engage with us, show up beside us, and learn from us

Feedback is a function of respect; when you don’t have honest conversations with us about our strengths and our opportunities for growth, we question our contributions and your commitment

Above all else, we ask that you show up, let yourself be seen, and be courageous.

Dare Greatly with us 

Are you a Viking, Victim or Visionary (Daring) leader?

Cheers Alison