How to keep the leadership fire burning?
One of the challenges in development is the “fits” and “starts” nature of it. We can experience powerful awareness, realize new insights and state a clear commitment and intention to change something about ourselves only to lose momentum in the midst of other responsibilities and/or distractions. How do we navigate through the natural cycle of growth? How do we add another log to the leadership fire that was ignited through a workshop, getting a 360 or some other developmental experience or conversation? How do we keep pace and relevance? Are we still in mystery around our impact? Where do we need to adapt? How do we feed both the outer and inner game of our leadership?
Sticking with our fire analogy, I offer the following leadership disciplines (from the book Mastering Leadership) for your reflection, as ways to stir the coals or add a log to the embers:
Discerning purpose – is it time to revisit your purpose and reflect on whether it needs an update? Leaders stand for what matters and then create it. What about purpose matters and is seeking to come through you? Warren Bennis writes: “Leaders are made, not born, and made more by themselves than by any external means. No leader sets out to be a leader per se, but rather to express him/herself freely and fully. Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It is precisely that simple, and also that difficult. First and foremost, find out what it is you’re about, and be that”.
Distill vision – vision is the heart and centerpiece of effective leadership. Vision is self-authoring. Vision is personal, specific, lofty, strategic and collective and is accomplished through dialogue. What is your vision of the compelling future that serves generations to come?
Knowing your doubts and fears – are you a student of your doubts and fears? Not so you will give into them, but to ensure that they don’t drive and take over. Am I choosing comfort over challenge? Safety over purpose? Does your IOS code, your inner beliefs and assumptions that drive your behaviors, need an upgrade? When was the last time you followed up with a coach on your 360 to renew your development plan?
Engage in authentic, courageous dialogue – What won’t I/we tell the truth about today? In the face of possible disapproval, who are you going to disappoint today? When caution prevails, the truth is obscured. The whole culture is going on in every meeting. The level of honesty or withholding, caution or courage, vision or compromise, integrity or manipulation. To change the culture is to change the moment. Am I speaking courageously and with high integrity?
All of this can be easier said than done and we are never really done. Taking action with these disciplines puts another log on the fire and keeps it burning. What will you do today and in this moment to grow your leadership? The choice is yours. Follow your bliss and joy!