It would be terrific (and terribly convenient) if leadership development occurred uniformly in a two or three day workshop. It would be great if our organizational change efforts happened instantaneously and all the result of a single email announcement from the boss. That should suffice, right? Wrong. I’d love to be able to run 100 miles with no training or build up too. Instant, easy, and pain-free change is a pipe dream. It just doesn’t happen that way.
Leadership development, like organizational change occurs over time. There is no clear path to leadership. Rather, leadership is a path. A path that requires focus of attention and intention; it is a daily practice. It’s like the old joke, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.”
A senior leader I’ve worked with says that every day he lives and works in a fast paced, ever-changing world where delivering results is job one. He puts it like this:
“Unless we are open to changing the way we approach our business, we could very well find ourselves in a ‘we can’t get there from here’ type of situation. So we continue to change our processes and structures to allow us to capitalize on the opportunities before us. That requires real discipline and adjustments for each of us as individual leaders in the organization. We need to be willing to provoke change in ourselves in order to do what we need to do to get what we want. It’s that simple.”
It is not enough to focus on results. Such a narrow focus leaves little room for innovation and creativity to play a role in moving the organization forward. A results-only orientation leads to a “Ready, Fire, Aim” culture in which we introduce a prior and ready solution, which is based on past experience, to a new challenge or opportunity. A results-only orientation becomes costly to the company in the long run, as people self-select out of teams and organizations where the focus is solely on results.
Successful leaders see the desired results and they have the awareness and will to open the process up to possible change and adaptation in order to achieve the desired results. They are willing, on a personal, team, and organizational level to encourage the self-scrutiny that addresses who we might need to be in order to make it all happen. They are willing to put in the time to practice. Through accepting that leadership is a practice and that development and change take time, they find the courage to take the first step on the path of leadership. Sometimes over and over again.
Today think of one thing you’d like to get better at as a leader. Maybe you want to ask more questions. Maybe you want to slow down before you act. Maybe you want to spend more time having 1:1s with your team members. Post a reminder to yourself and start. How do you get to Carnegie Hall?
Dr. Greg Giuliano is a change leader, innovator, and trusted thinking partner in the area of change leadership. As Founder and Managing Principal at Ecstasis, LLC, a leadership and organizational development consultancy, Greg uses his experiences as a business leader and former psychotherapist to engage with clients all over the world to co-create change leadership strategies that enable success.
Greg’s multi-sector consulting career includes experience with Cisco, Apollo Group, CITI, Philips, AAA, QuickLogic, Goodwill Industries, Red Lion Hotels, and Oxfam GB among others. Greg became a leader in the fields of leadership and change with innovations to individual practices, group learning processes, and social technologies that facilitate individual and collective reflection, dialogue, and positive change.
Follow Greg on Twitter: https://twitter.com/greggiuliano