Leaders who lead from the outside-in spend an unhealthy amount of time concentrating on their outward life instead of their inward life. The danger in doing this is that the core of who we are and what drives us come from the inside. The inside life of a leader is reflected through their actions and behaviors. A leader who loses focus of his inward life is traveling a dangerous path. Leader’s who are outside-in still can cast a compelling vision, build a tribe, and deliver results. At the same time they can also, over time, develop cracks in their character and integrity because character, integrity, morals, come from the inside of a person.
History is full of examples of people and companies with outside-in leaders who have come crashing down. It does not matter your position or title, everyone has the potential to succumb to being an outside-in leader. Even President John F. Kennedy lead a life from the outside-in. Feel free to read more about his outside-in leadership and life in The Dark Side Of John F. Kennedy. The past few years we have seen many leader fallen because of not focusing on their inward life. But we have also seen people who have left a lasting legacy of greatness, who where inside-out leaders. I want to provide you with two examples of coaches who exemplify being an inside-out and outside-in leader.
First, an example of a true inside-out leader was John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach of UCLA. Who “in 2009 was named by Sporting News as the greatest coach of all time in any sport.” He lived with character and integrity in every area of his life. His example show what can happen if you continue to make the right choices a long period. This is only done if you focus on your inward life.
Second, an example of an outside-in leader is former Penn State coach Joe Patterno (Enough said).
Becoming an outside-in leader can be avoided if we intentionally focus and develop our inward life. Here are some suggestions on how to maintain your inward life:
Take time to evaluate your current inside condition and then make the necessary changes. (This might require seeking professional help).
Take time to find people who will sharpen and hold you accountable.
Take time to daily think about and develop your inside life.
Take time to think about your core values and beliefs then choose to live a life that reflects them.
Take time to know and understand yourself.
Question: How do you maintain living and leading from the inside-out?