I’m No Actor But I Play Many Roles – Leadership is a Choice #2

Jessica Soroky continues her series Leadership is a Choice.

In the course of 24 hours I play close to a dozen different roles, and that’s just counting the roles I am aware of.

When the alarm goes off, a split second before consciousness takes over I have no role, I am just a sleepy human. Once the world starts to take shape in front of me I quickly assume the part of caretaker for my two animals.

When I walk into the office I put on several more roles. To my boss I am his employee, to my teams I am their team member, Scrum Master, and Coach. To my customers I am the vehicle to their budget and timelines being on track.

As I leave work and check in with my family my role morphs into daughter, sister and cousin. The night progresses and conversations with friends take place, changing my role. This particular night as I write this post I close my day as a blogger, leadership practitioner, and eternal student.

I began to really take a deeper look at the idea of being aware of my role in every situation after a The Leadership Gift™ Program Mastery call with Bill McCarley. I couldn’t tell you exactly the conversation that helped me have a breakthrough because like many mastery calls my mind was taken over by searching for where this topic related in my life.

My mind went first to work, where the conversation has been almost entirely centered around roles and responsibilities lately. The teams I serve are stuck in the middle of a debate around who is supposed to do what in all areas of our projects. I could’ve stopped here and taken a look at how roles or the lack there of, have an effect on teams but there was something deeper that pulled me to think about roles in my personal life.

I tuned back into the call just as one of the practitioners was describing an agreement they held with their spouse. At any time the spouse could come completely under the line (not in a mental state of responsibility) and just vent. The practitioner’s side of the agreement was to simply allow them to get it off their chest and resist the urge to poke them or coach them through the situation.

This hit so deep I stopped and just stared at the screen, not even aware of Bill’s response.

In recent weeks a friend of mine had come to me almost daily talking about the relationship she is in and in most cases she wasn’t happy with how things were going. I tried over and over to ask questions and coach her through it. I hated seeing my friend mistreated and unhappy but more so I hated seeing her choose to continue in that situation.

During a few of my attempts to coach her, she began to get more and more frustrated. As soon as I became aware of it I would back way off. Even after backing off I would wonder all night why she got upset. A few months prior I had exposed her to The Leadership Gift Program and the material I have been studying. It was then that she asked if I would coach her and expose her to more and more of this.

With that agreement in place I couldn’t understand what was causing so much friction now, and I didn’t figure it out until this mastery call.

When my friend would come to me about her situation I had no idea what my role was and instead of asking I made an assumption that in this situation my role was coach.

We all know what making an assumption does, and this was no different.

Looking back at the situation she wasn’t really as hurt as I had built up in my head. She was frustrated sure, but it was me that needed to believe she was hurt to justify my desire to change her.

It wasn’t my friend’s decision to continue to choose the same thing over and over that was frustrating it was her need to vent about it over and over that was driving me so crazy I wanted to change it. Especially since I had made the assumption my role was a coach and not just as a listener.

To be totally honest, I wasn’t doing a great job coaching her.  I had deemed what she was doing as bad, wrong, or even stupid. I was living in The Control Cycle evaluating instead of looking at it from a mindset of choice and power.

First and foremost, I chose to stop blaming her for the frustration I was feeling since it was I who chose to feel that way.

Well s**t… choice.

She had made her own choices. She had actually made her own choices repeatedly.

Even though I was still on the Mastery call while all of this was going through my head, I was long gone in my own world. It was in this world that I heard Christopher and Bill ask me if I could allow her to make these choices.

Of course I could.

After work that day she called and began almost immediately into the same cycle of rants. When she paused for a second I took the opportunity to ask her, “What are you looking for when we have these conversations? Do you need someone to just listen so you can get it off your chest or are you looking for someone to work through the problem with?”

The phone was so silent I thought she had hung up. She finally responded with, “Well, I just really want someone to listen to me.”

I went back to asking myself if I could play this role of listener?

In the end I decided I could, but I asked her one thing first. “If you are ever ready to work through the problem will you let me know?”

Another long pause before she very sincerely responded, “Of course…thank you for listening to me.”

It was then that I let go, I chose to stop feeling frustrated and instead chose to be present and focus on this role I had just agreed to. In this moment I can be a listener.

How many times do we cause our own frustration being unaware of what role we are playing? How many times have you made the assumption that the role you are is something different than what the other person is asking you to be for them?


Jessica Soroky, CSM

IMG_3285Jessica is a Certified Scrum Master with over three years of practice in agile delivery and seven years of team leadership. She is also the youngest participant in The Leadership Gift™ Program and its growing worldwide community of leaders and coaches. After five years of non-profit development through Nellie’s Catwalk for Kids, Jessica continues her leadership journey in state government, not-for-profit, and private sector leadership studies.


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Posted in Responsibility on 03/02/2015 01:41 am
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