How to grow as a leader
Leadership Coach, Front of Room Leader and Systemic Change Guide

Last week I wrote about the Pygmalion in the workplace effect. This week I am digging a little deeper.

If you haven’t read that blog, here’s the bottom line: Harvard researchers told managers to expect certain members of their teams to become high performers in the year ahead. In reality, they had randomly picked those team members. However, their performance was directly impacted by their managers’ higher expectations:

By expecting randomly selected people to flourish, managers created that very reality.

J. Sterling Livingston, who conducted the Pygmalion in the workplace study, observed something else:

This self-fullfilling prophecy did not unfold in all cases. When taking a closer look, he found that a managers’ self-perception determined whether he was able to raise his employees’ performance. How?

A manager’s positive expectations only worked their magic on her “high potentials” when she had a positive self-image.

For example, a leader who did not perceive himself as inspiring and able to develop people, received a less impressive performance.


Our self-perception has a mirror effect on others.

Managers who expect less of themselves, expect less of their people, and in return get back less. Unfortunately not all managers are aware of their own self-perceptions nor of their impact on others, and you might wonder about yourself now.

What can you do as a leader to become more conscious of yourself and your impact on others?

To grow others, you have to grow yourself. In other words, you need to work on your own inner game, in order to effectively support others in reaching their highest potential, as a person, and as a team member.
A courageous leader looks at her limiting beliefs about herself and others. She shines a light on her thinking and behavioural patters and their unintended impact on others. An inspiring leader becomes conscious of and stands for what truly matters to himself and what he wants to create in the world.

There are many ways of raising your self-awareness to evolve as a human being and leader.

Daily solitary practices like

  • meditation: observing your thoughts and emotions with curiosity and without judgment, and

  • journaling: letting your subconscious flow on paper by writing to think.

Ways of discovering ourselves with sparring partners like

  • working with a coach: who creates a safe and creative space for exploration with you, to uncover your deepest dreams and aspirations, and to overcome your fears and limiting beliefs so that you can continue to shift your growth edge and turn new insights into practice,

  • participating in a leadership development programme: where you experience your shared humanity in a group and see yourself with and in others.

For leadership coaching and developement, get in touch

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