• Pam Del Franco aka ASK NANNA

The Meaning of Leadership

It’s quite likely that you’re misunderstanding why it is that you’re successful in areas of your life (especially business) but keep ending up in poor relationships.

You know how to make decisions, and you can take the lead in your business or at work. You can read that contract, solve that board room problem, and efficiently use conflict resolution between team members.

You’re good at what you do. You’re calm, directed focus helps team members see the problem and gives them space to solve it. You trust that what you’ve taught them through your leadership will not only sustain them but help them thrive. That, in turn, helps build your business.

It didn’t come easy for you. You had your own struggles and overcome them through resilience, determination, and passion for the work that you do.

So, with all that going for you, how do you end up in an unfulfilling relationship?

You ended up with someone that’s blasé when you try and talk to him about your business. But when he brings up something about his work situation, you jump on it, offering solutions. You help him navigate around his feelings, but if he’s unwilling to talk, you give him a soft place to fall.

But somehow, you end up feeling depleted. Not because you don’t love your partner, but mostly because you feel embarrassed to admit to yourself or others that you’re not in a good relationship. Most people around you think that you’re this dynamic, powerful woman and assume that your relationship is the same.

The thing is you are that powerful dynamic woman. Just because you’re in an unsatisfactory relationship, or you’ve drawn bad relationships to you in the past, doesn’t make you any less than.

Think about how you encourage your teammates, and your open-door policy lets them express what they need to. They can come to you when they need time off for mental health, or their child is sick, or they’re having an sh…. day. Of course, you want to support them because it’s reciprocal. You help them, you feel good, your business thrives, their lives improve – it’s a win-win.

As their leader, it’s natural for you to help bring them up, so that’s what you want to do in your relationship.

But when it comes to a partner love relationship, other emotions get in the way – like that past hurtful event that you didn’t recognize you brought into your relationship. It’s less noticeable in your business because you can keep your emotional distance. But relationships are based on real intimacy. That means you can be who you are and you help each other grow. Like the analogy I heard the other day, when a seed sprouts from the ground, you don’t yank at it to help it grow. You water it, give it sunshine, and when it’s ready, you can harvest it. (Reap the rewards)

Back at home, you lend a hand to pull him up, but he doesn’t take it, he just remains quite or morose. Yes, he needs to sort it out, you’re not his mother. But the reciprocation that you get from your work teammates isn’t there – he just leaves you flat wondering what you can do, or if you should even stay.

When he pulls away from you because of a problem unrelated to the relationship, you move towards him to help him through it, and he backs off. You try a different approach, and again he backs off. You end up in an argument because you want to help, but he doesn’t appear to want help. He is responsible for his behavior towards you and visa versa, but you insist on trying to help.

You think the problem is your partner’s lack of communication or inability to express his feelings. Maybe you believe that you need to soften your approach and stop trying to take the lead. So you take a step back to let him lead, but he doesn’t step forward.

Leadership means taking responsibility for consequences resulting from a decision that was made on behalf of more than one person. You know that, and you live that in your business, so you wonder why you can’t do the same thing in your relationship.

It’s because what you think is the problem (him not taking leadership) isn’t what’s going on. And even if it were, that’s still not the issue here.

What’s actually happening is that you’re playing an old record that may have been sitting in your psyche for years.

Maybe there was a time when you were hushed or were told not to be so bossy when you were growing up. Maybe you witnessed your father’s gentle nature being taken advantage of by a bossy mom playing out her own fears.

Whatever the connection is, it’s showing up in the way you behave in your relationship. It’s easy to adjust at work because that’s what’s expected of you. You’re the boss, and you make sure your teammates are supported while they get the job done.

But you don’t recognize that at home, it’s OK to be in a more equal partnership. (Just by the nature of human beings, it’s never going to be exactly equal. But you’ve come to an agreement over the important issues or values that you both hold dear.)

But finding that equality is challenging without discovering what you’re bringing to the table that’s hurting the relationship.

Once you uncover the primary connection (it will be something in your past that you may or may not remember) between that and how you show up in a relationship, you’ll be able to release those emotions. Then you’ll shift into understanding yourself well enough to know when you’ve been triggered by it. That’s when real change begins.

You can take steps to create healthy boundaries and rules between you, or if need be, move on to a new relationship without dragging that destructive force with you. If you don’t think it’s there, then for sure it is. You will always project what pain you feel onto an intimate relationship.

Once you get this, you’ll shift from worrying about your relationship (and how it negatively and subtly impacts your business) to feeling balance between your work and love life.

You’ve heard it before, at the end of your life, you won’t be counting the dollars you made but the love you felt and the difference you’ve made for others.