Leadership Between the Lines

"Receiving" as a leadership skill & 7 solid reasons to receive better

Okay, I've gotta write this post for the gentleman I just got off the phone with (you know who you are.) If he allows me, I'll give him attribution for inspiration, for now, I shall call him "Guido". Seven (yep 7) solid reasons for climbing on the receive wagon await you at the end of this post, but allow me to build up to them with some context and drama.

I have a little rule and it goes something like this...if I am experiencing extreme gratitude, awe or respect for someone, I do everything I can to let them know. (Many a friend/client/colleague/child/family member has received a spontaneous call, text, or shout out of such - not enough, but many.) I don't do it every time (that would be almost impossible because I feel this way about 73% of the day for the people in my life), BUT, if it comes up a couple of times, or if I have a strong sense to do something about it; a call, a note, or a text is bound to happen.

And when I do honor this sense, the only job of the recipient, the only thing I ask, is that they receive it. Really receive it. I mean...LET. IT. IN. They don't even have to say thanks - I just want them to feel it, and to know that they've had impact; they've "changed" me, in some way, for the better...

When they receive and let it in, I feel it. And I feel good. My being is impacted. I have connected and shared my truth, and it has landed "over there." Someone knows they matter - a lot. My day is better. They are likely energized. They're bound to pay that energy forward in some way. The world is a better place.

But this art of receiving...this is not always easy. I say this as a teacher and a student...receiving is a leadership skill.

The fine art of receiving.

Try it on for a minute...consider...how good are you at receiving? (Feel into that one.) And how good are you at being with someone who can't receive? (That one may take extra thought...)

I do this exercise in my client and student workshops where I have members of the team BE with acknowledgement. When teaching the "energy & craft of productive feedback", I have group experiences where I have them BE with positive feedback. And then I have them BE with "negative/stretch" feedback. Guess which ones are the most difficult?

It never fails...the acknowledgement and the positive feedback sessions are usually the hardest of the two for people to "be" with.

What's interesting is that the people who have the easier time with receiving are often the ones who give the greatest, most sincere, unique, and deepest acknowledgements of others. They're also the most comfortable with being WITH that person as they receive. This is not a hard and fast rule, but I do notice themes.

Receiving is not a selfish act. It's an act of generosity.

Here's something I've learned...(heads up: this may be a hard pill to swallow.) If we can't receive, we're stunted in our ability to give. If we can't receive and acknowledge another's contribution to us, we miss out on our own spirit rich experience, and even more, we energetically hinder the other person's spirit rich experience of GIVING.

Receiving is not a selfish act. It's an act of generosity.

To try this on, simply remember the last time you gave someone an acknowledgement or compliment and they deflected it, made it wrong, or simply ignored it. It may not have been that blatant and obvious, but energetically you felt it. What was the impact on you? (It may have been subtle, but I promise you, there was an energetic impact.) Ever try to do something nice for someone, because you really wanted to, and they wouldn't let you? Look there.

Guido, Luigi and a figure-8.

Case in point, back to "Guido"...(and with a bit of creative license for embellishment.) So I'm on the phone with my friend "Guido" (who is a gem of human being and not so great, okay - actually really bad - at receiving acknowledgements, no offense Guido), and we're talking about an upcoming business event, and he starts talking beautifully about another colleague of ours who's going to be there. I mean, beautifully. (Let's call this colleague Luigi). And when I ask him if "Luigi" has any idea how nicely he talks about him and his team, he says - "No, not really, he always deflects it. That guy cannot take a compliment, no way. But I'm even worse so I can't complain. [Insert embellishment here] I can't stand to get compliments, I don't know anyone who can. Compliments freak me out. Pleazzze Anese..."

Bingo. And this is WHY receiving is a leadership skill.

If I can razz my friend a bit here...My friend, "Guido", let's his friend, "Luigi", off the hook for receiving because it's a place he won't go as well. On the flip side, if Guido were to be great at receiving (or not even great, but just able to stand in it), when Luigi tries to wiggle out of it or pass it off, Guido will be better able to hold that space of receiving for him. Even more so, if Guido is comfortable with it, the way in which he delivers the acknowledgement to Luigi will be all the more powerful. It's a mutually beneficial win for both. Which is what I'm offering here.

Follow me now...If you have a hard time receiving an acknowledgement - there's impact on you. AND there's impact on those you lead. While you may be able to give one, 1) it's likely going to be more difficult to be with the person, to "hold that space", and to ensure THEY receive it. And 2) if you can't receive it, you just might miss out on other amazing things you could see in others if you were in fact better at receiving. The more open and receptive we are to our own brilliance and goodness, the more we can see and witness it in others. The more we can receive, the more we can give. And the more brilliance and goodness we see in others, the more we can see in ourselves. The more generous we can be, the more receptive. (If you followed that figure-8 move, good job.)

Why? It's all about the energy of giving and receiving.

When someone gives you an acknowledgement, it's usually because they see something in you that inspires them, makes them happy, awes them, it may even be a calling for you; something that they see in you that you can't see for yourself, it's a gift. Accepting it gracefully is an act of inviting intimacy and connection, and bonus, this simple act of graceful acceptance opens up even more space for them to shine. Because when you shine bright, others have more space, inspiration, and even permission to shine even brighter.

So, bottom line, receiving is an act of intimacy, connection and even generosity. It is a creator of expansion and space. It is, in fact, a leadership skill.

And if this all isn't enough, as promised, here are 7 reasons to start receiving gracefully today:

  • It's generous - by receiving well you actually create more space for others to shine.
  • It's kind - acknowledging others can take courage and vulnerability - back your giver up.
  • It creates intimacy and connection.
  • It creates expansion. Breath. Space.
  • It's contagious - this is all felt by the other person (the giver) and creates a reciprocal impact.
  • It creates a virtuous cycle that is bound to be paid forward many times over.
  • It just feels good. Take it. Savor it. Let it change you.

No big queries tonight...only the invitation to receive. Receive this post, take what serves and resonates for you, let me know how it goes.

I appreciate you for the unique gifts that you bring to those you lead, for visiting me here, and for being in the conversation of continuous learning together. (And...can you receive that?) // axc