Seven Steps to New Leadership
You could be more. Can you live with that? Leaders don’t.
There’s hope if you’re unhappy.
Contentment chokes growth.
7 Steps to New Leadership:
#1. Distress fuels discontent and drives urgency.
Every step toward meaning begins with dissatisfaction, discomfort, discontent, and disaffection. “Dis” is a beginning.
Everything great begins with unhappiness.
#2. Stepping out.
You try something new and hang on to the old, at the same time. You can’t forsake certainties for uncertainties. You cling to the old while trying on new behaviors.
#3. New discomfort.
Living your old life, while testing the new, feels awkward at best. Living in two worlds fuels new dissatisfaction and discomfort. The point is the old has to go, but the new is tenuous.
The uncertain path forward always includes the temptation to surrender the dream and cling to the known.
#4. New clarity.
Discomfort initiates growth. Vision guides it.
Do something new while letting go of something old. You’re still living with one foot in the old world and one in the new. The new world energizes; the old frustrates.
#5. New identity emerges.
“Becoming,” not “doing,” is real growth.
Stepping out emboldens the new you. You must do new things. But, the lasting opportunity is embracing new identity.
The ultimate question is, “Who do you want to become.”
#6. Identity determines behavior.
When “doing” drives living, frustration grows. When identity drives behavior, fulfillment grows.
#7. Letting go and taking hold.
New identity enables you to let go the old and grasp the new.
As new identity emerges the grip of old behaviors relaxes. Eventually, you release old behaviors that defined you.
Possibility and danger:
The second round of frustration (#3.) is the point of greatest danger and possibility.
Let go the old, while reaching for the new. Those who can’t let go, fall back.
Surrender the dream, lose yourself.
What would you add to this seven phase growth cycle?
How might this growth cycle apply to organizations?
Awesome post! Thanks. ##6 Identity Determines Behavior, behavior develops habits (good or bad) and daily habits ultimately shape your world (good or bad).
Thanks Chris. Great add. I like how you teased that out.
Ha ha. Thanks!! I did that? Cool.
Great post, Dan. Too often we experience leaders who act as if they’ve arrived, rather than recognize they are just one step further along the journey of Becoming. Hardest behavior along that path is, as you mention, letting go while stepping forward: moving toward Added Value before it’s completely birthed.
As usual, you’ve managed to somehow write the perfect words for me today that I didn’t realize I needed. Thank you. Another one I’ll need to print as a guide and a reminder that I have a tough road ahead, but I’m not the first one to tackle it and so the way will be a bit less scary.
Good thinking. Dis-connecting the goals with the current level of comfort. Dis-sociating with people who want to hold you back – the Crab Bucket Syndrome. Nice stuff as usual. I play with two other related things when talking about leading others in the workplace. Dis-Un-Engagement and Dis-Un-Empowerment are also things that leaders can do, looking to remove the roadblocks and to remove those things getting in the way of OTHERS acting to move down that uncertain path.
Actually, a bit of certainty about goals is probably useful, since that can help shape the peer support from others that is such a powerful motivator.
On the other hand, how does one of those $500,000,000 or even billion-dollar CEOs ever think that they haven’t arrived? Don’t they find it hard to believe that they DON’T have The Answer to the issues and that their problems only occur because others (like government regulators or agencies) simply don’t get it? You know, those little people who pick flyshit out of the pepper trying to regulate?
Just a thought… I saw a blip that we have our first Billion Dollar CEO last night… I mean, seriously?
I went back and re-read and saw: #7. Letting go and taking hold.
That reminded me of The First Rule of Wing Walking, which says, “Don’t let go with your left hand until you have a firm grip with your right.” Useful advice, most of the time… Maybe the order of #7 might be reversed. (grin)
Dan: A while back you spoke to an essential question of leadership insofar as the roles of elder and younger managers—and how and why they can and must relate to one another. Your post here speaks to not only the need for NEW LEADERSHIP but how reasoning makes integration of the new into the old seamless.
I was thinking about how important it is for all of us–of all ages at all stages of our lives–to understand how life is understood backwards, but lived forwards. Personally and professionally, we need both youth and age to live life most fully.
It is said that life has TWO ACTS, as do many dramas in a theatre. These “acts” are vitally related one to another. The second “act” is an advance on the first, and carries the plot to its full realization.
Ultimately we come to understand if we had only the OLD, we would have a lock without a key, a story without a plot, a seed without a fruit, and a promise without fulfillment.
If we only had the NEW without the old, it would be an end without a beginning, a fulfillment without a promise, a superstructure without a foundation.
Thus we ultimately realize:
The New is in the Old CONCEALED;
The Old is in the New REVEALED.
The NEW is in the Old CONTAINED;
The OLD is in the New EXPLAINED.
Leaders and organizations who wish to bring in the NEW are encouraged to realize their dreams, while at the same must be inspired to SEE (understand) the foundation and building blocks that made that business possible in the first place.
Lots of great quotes that fit – including one from my favorite source, Albert Einstein: “You can’t solve the problems of today with the same knowledge used when they were created.” OR: “Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over, expecting different outcomes.”
Love this, Dan!
I think there is an subtle assumption at work that change should go relatively smoothly; that interruption to the daily work flow and practices should be minimal to non existent.
If people are made aware that change is seldom so, an learn to anticipate some of the “dis”es that are likely to come with the territory, I wonder how many people might then be able to ride the wave of change a little better?
This is some of the most powerful stuff I have read in quite awhile that relates exactly to my life. Thank you for confirming to me that I am on the right path. Keep up the great work!
Grace & Peace,
The general feeling out there, especially old-style leadership, is that you have to be “peg-able”. This implies that you stick to one style all the time. It implies that once you reach a certain “pinnacle” you never will change again … stagnant until you retire. Recently I was accused of not being “peg-able”. My response was that I do not like to be pegged and if you want to “peg” me … then I’m a “wild-card” peg. This gives me the flexibility to change and grow into new kind of leader perpetually.
Thank you for words that keep momentum!