Our primary approach to leadership—even if it works with most people most of the time, even if it’s the key to our success to date—doesn’t work for everyone all the time.
When our default “autopilot” methods aren’t creating the outcome we desire, many of us in leadership positions tend to double-down, pushing our way of doing things even more assertively, which often results in resistance, inefficiency and ultimately, ineffectiveness, along with creating unhealthy dynamics in the workplace.
In our coaching sessions, it frequently becomes clear that leaders, rather than choosing to adapt to the team, expect the team to adapt to them.
As you consider the statement above, what responses arise within you? How many of them are based in acknowledgment, and how many of them are rooted in some kind of defensiveness—justifying and rationalizing your way of doing things?
A huge opportunity exists here if we are able and willing to pause, step back, and let go of our habits, patterns and tendencies long enough to see the bigger picture.
When we are mindful, in other words, we can expand around our attachments, preconceived notions, unconscious biases and limiting beliefs, and therefore choose from a vast library of options and possibilities rather than the small bookshelf of our own minds.
The reality is, our team has their strengths and their development needs,
their skills and their growth areas. We have what we have to work with, and if we don’t acknowledge that and proceed accordingly, we’ll often find ourselves frustrated, trying to fit square pegs into round holes.
By being open to other means, methods and even motivations, by embracing “accidents” as opportunity, by refraining from judgment until all perspectives have been considered, new, creative, innovative ways of doing things can and do arise. In fact, this is the only way innovation can occur-it never once happened by someone in charge saying “no” to a different approach.
Proceeding as such not only results in the best way forward, it’s an excellent way to create more buy-in, mutual respect, what we call “significance” and far more harmony and satisfaction with
your team members, colleagues, in your larger organization—and within yourself.
Another bonus: every time you say “yes” to possibility, you expand your neural network, stretch your brain muscles, create greater neuroplasticity, and make positive change easier and more likely as you move forward.
An invitation: Ask yourself “What kind of leader am I, and what kind of leader do I aspire to be?” Answer it honestly, sit with those answers, and then act on those answers—one small step at a time, always refining and improving your approach, creating more good habits and letting go the ones that no longer serve until a new, more progressive, more adaptable leader comes forth.
Remember, in the words of Marshall Goldsmith, “What got you here won’t get you there”!