Thu 8 Jul 2010
I was reading a Dale Carnegie Blog that gave 4 tips for staying flexible during periods of unpredicatability. The blog started out by highlighting the need for people to be stretchable and expandable during these times of unparalleled change.
It occurred to me that those are great words of advice for leaders to apply in directing their 21st Century teams and businesses. In my C.A.R.E. System of Leadership, the A in C.A.R.E. stands for Adapt. I show leaders and managers how to apply techniques to make it easier for them to adopt an adaptive mindset in how they lead. The challenges we are facing today in business are many and are unprecedented. While it is true that change is the only constant, the degree and amount of change vary. I think everyone would agree that challenges are coming to us from many different angles and at a fast pace.
If we are to be truly stretchable and adaptable, we need to flex our leaderhip muscle in ways we’ve never tried. This is hard to do because we have to fight our inertia and wrestle with our comfort zone. How do you fight the status quo? What I found beneficial was to do something everyday that made me uncomfortable. I’m a big fan of doing things in baby steps simply because sometimes the big picture overwhelms you and causes you to do nothing . That defeats the purpose so baby steps ensure that you gain confidence along the way.
The reason to tackle things that make you uncomfortable is obvious. Once you tackle them, you find they are not as bad as you thought. They are not as big and hairy as you imagined. By dealing with your discomfort you get energized and that gives you the inspiration to try something else. Before you know it, you are training your mind to think differently, to “adapt” itself to another way of seeing and doing things.
I will caution you that you need to be consistent and stay at it for a period of time. Like any habit, your leadership comfort zone wants you to stop trying techniques that aren’t in your handy toolbox. It’s lazy and doesn’t want to be challenged to try new things. That’s precisely why you need to keep trying and stretching. If you don’t, you will surely fall behind and the speed of change will outpace you.
For me, my discomfort with leading the Millennials was something I needed to tackle. If not, I was either not going to hire any of them or I was going to fire them all. Not good choices. For months, I battled the urge to stop and to go back to the way I led my teams in the past. But everyday, I would just try one little thing to keep me moving forward and get me closer to understanding them. That was the key. Those little things slowly changed my way of thinking and turned into a really big thing. It let me see that understanding the Millennials was just the start. There was a lot more to gain if I kept at it.
Overcoming that one discomfort started me on a path to change my leadership thinking. Instead of holding on to what was not working, I stretched myself and I adapted. I learned that if you don’t move forward and expand your leadership toolbox you will fall behind. The fast pace of change we are dealing with will surely guarantee it.
So what are you doing to stretch and adapt your leadership skills in today’s unprecedented times?