Rewriting your Leadership Code


Rewriting your Leadership Code. In this conversation Judith Germain speaks to Nik Kinley about how to rewrite our Leadership Code. Nik outlines strategies for leaders to identify their underlying tendencies, understand where they come from, and consciously work to interrupt or replace unhelpful patterns with new, more purposeful behaviours. He emphasises that this is an ongoing process, not a quick fix, and requires self-awareness and a willingness to make changes.

Key Takeaways

  • Our childhood experiences shape our leadership style and tendencies in subtle yet impactful ways.
  • There is no inherently “good” or “bad” leadership code – it depends on the context.
  • Self-awareness of our tendencies enables us to adapt our leadership approach.
  • Change takes time but is possible through intentionally developing new behaviors.


Leadership Code and Childhood Influences

  • The “leadership code” refers to our underlying instincts, sensitivities and ways of behaving that stem from childhood experiences and influence how we lead.
  • Early childhood experiences shape neurological pathways that lead us to interpret situations and respond in certain ways.
  • Even small, repeated experiences like how parents resolve conflict can influence how we deal with tension as leaders.
  • Cross-cultural research shows it’s the child’s perspective and interpretation that matters most in shaping future behaviour.

Adapting Your Leadership Approach

  • There is no inherently good or bad leadership code – all tendencies have upsides and downsides that depend on the context.
  • Self-awareness of our tendencies allows us to spot situations where they may not serve us well and intentionally adapt.
  • We can’t erase old pathways but can lay down new ones through practicing desired behaviours.
  • Rewriting the code takes time but can create real change in how we lead and impact others.

Aligning Leadership Philosophy

  • Nik and Judith share a contextual, adaptive view of leadership vs. a “checklist” approach.
  • They agree effective leadership stems from self-awareness and focusing on the impact made.
  • Both are interested in collaborating on leadership content given their aligned perspectives.

In this conversation Nik delves deeper into how childhood experiences, both positive and negative, can shape a leader’s tendencies and behaviors. He provides examples of how early exposure to things like conflict resolution, authority figures, and emotional expression can become ingrained patterns that leaders fall back on, even subconsciously.

Nik Kinley is a consultant, coach and author.

Maverick leadership is all about thinking outside the box and challenging the status quo. It’s about having the courage to take risks and the confidence to lead in a way that is authentic and genuine.

But amplifying your influence as a leader isn’t just about having a strong vision or a big personality. It’s also about having the right leadership capability and being able to execute on your ideas and plans.

The consequences of not having the right level of influence as a leader can be significant. Without the ability to inspire and motivate others, you may struggle to achieve your goals and make a real impact.

How Influential Are you? Take the scorecard at and see. 

Nik Kinley can be found on LinkedIn here. His website is here.

You can listen to Episode 421 on any of the popular podcast platforms or apps (including Spotify, and Audible). If you prefer to listen to your browser you can do that below. Enjoy!


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