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Are You a Catabolic or an Anabolic Leader?

“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” ~ General George Patton

I define leadership as the ability to inspire and motivate others, as well as yourself, to take life-changing action to create extraordinary results that last.

According to this definition, each and every one of us is a leader – no matter if we officially have the title or not. How well you lead depends on your level of consciousness, or energy. Higher levels of anabolic energy are associated with more effective leadership. Anabolic energy is building energy, and whether in the workplace or at home, great leaders build relationships, teams, families, and businesses. Catabolic energy, on the other hand, is destructive, and catabolic leaders destroy and break down everything around them (have you been on the receiving end of one of these leaders?!).

In the next few blogs, we’ll take a look at the characteristics of anabolic and catabolic leaders to show how you can become the leader that you want to be.

Let’s look first at the overall style of the catabolic leader. A catabolic leader manages. The definition of “manage” is “to handle, direct, govern, or control in action or use,” and “to dominate or influence.”  Catabolic leaders control others. They tell others what to do, and how to do it. The catabolic leader, in keeping control, pushes others down to a non-powerful position – and then most likely complains to everyone around that “I can’t seem to find good help,” and “no one does things as well as I do.”

An anabolic leader, on the other hand, leads. The definition of “lead” is “to go before or with to show the way,” and “to guide in direction, course, and action.” This sounds supportive and empowering, and it is. The anabolic leader doesn’t control and doesn’t push people, but instead, inspires them by words, action, and by personal example.

The Institute of Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC) has a foundation principle that states: “Each of us is each greater and wiser than we appear to be.” Anabolic leaders realize this, and thus, don’t feel the need to tell people what to do, as they realize that everyone has their own answers and gifts. John Quincy Adams said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

Last week we discussed catabolic and anabolic responses while being faced with a task or something to do. When a catabolic leader TELLS or DEMANDS that someone do something, most likely, the recipient of the telling will respond catabolically – “I won’t,” “I have to,” or “I need to.” When an anabolic leader REQUESTS that someone do something, or ASKS for someone’s input on a project, the recipient of the asking is much more likely to respond with the anabolic “I want to” or “I choose to.” The more anabolic the leader, the greater the probability of success in the task.

This week, as you interact with those around you, think about how much more of an anabolic leader you could be if you led, instead of managed.

“Leadership is like ballroom dancing. You can lead by throwing your weight around and yanking your followers with you. Or you can learn the secrets of leadership and arrive at your destination sooner – with better results and much happier followers – by putting yourself in their shoes to see things from their perspective.” ~ Michael Masterson

Where are you being a catabolic or anabolic leader this week? Let us know by adding your comments below.

Are you interested in having a conversation around leadership? Give our office a call at 682.200.1412.