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See What Your Leadership is Missing!

Posted by Kathy Laster on 01/27/2016

It is not often I feel genuine excitement while reading a book on leadership…not what I typically think of as riveting reading.  But, Mastering Leadership by Bob Anderson and Bill Adams, is that and more! I had anxiously anticipated the release of the book in late November and delved into reading it over the holidays.  I finally finished it this weekend, having read it cover to cover, and it did not disappoint. This is not the kind of book you skim!  In keeping with our desire to provide you good resources, we couldn’t help but want to share this body of work that is powerfully transformative and can transcend the level of your leadership effectiveness and personal growth. 

Background:
Cristina and I were introduced to The Leadership Circle Profile (LCP), a model underlying Bob’s work, back in 2007, when preparing to launch IMPACT.  Bob created a unique 360 instrument that addressed the erroneous deeper beliefs about oneself that are the real culprit for holding ourselves back.  (Most 360 feedback surveys focus only on the outer game of competencies and skills…the “what” we are doing or not doing well.  But they fail to help us understand the “why” we behave like we do…the underlying beliefs that drive our behavior). I think we would both whole-heartedly agree that the feedback we got from the LCP, although it “ouched” a bit, was pivotal in accelerating our personal and professional growth.  So taken with it, I attended the certification training with Bob Anderson.  Since that time, Anderson has teamed with Bill Adams, expanded the work to a systems approach, and recently released this book.  It offers the reader a self-report profile free of charge on their website at www.theleadershipcircle.com. Once taken, you can apply the concepts you learn to yourself as you read the book.  If then, you decide you want to do even deeper work, you can choose to participate in a 360 for yourself.  And just to let you know we are walking our talk, we both are in the process of taking the LCP 360 again and will be attending advanced certification programs this next month.

The Faint-Hearted Should Read No Further!
Here’s the bottom line.  To transform cultures, organizations, or teams, we must first transform ourselves. (Beware: Working on ourselves is the hardest work we’ll ever do, but it is the ONLY path to sustainable change in the organizations we lead.) Think about it…when we try to change the system, we run smack into ourselves. We are the primary obstacle to the very future we are committed to creating. Moreover, we seldom notice when we are in the way. (Thus, the benefit of the 360 to remove our blinders!) If we want to transform performance, we must do most of the changing. We cannot just sponsor change or redesign systems and processes—we must redesign ourselves! We tend to spend most of our time on changing the system and little on the profound personal changes required of us. We try to change culture as if it is separate from ourselves. We try to change it—not us. System change requires a transformation in consciousness within the organization’s leadership. The work required of change leaders is to discover how we personally contribute to the culture we are trying to change. When we lead change, we are the culture we are trying to change.

Levels of Leadership
Leaders can only take their organizations as far as they have come in their own development. Leaders develop, if they develop, through a series of sequential stages, and these same stages exist in all cultures.  Transformative change requires us as leaders to shift to a higher stage of development, namely from a reactive “outward/in” mindset to a creative “inward/out” mindset.  Unless this personal transformation occurs, any improvement will be temporary.  The organization will likely revert back to normal, its prior equilibrium. 

Recently, a CEO looked me in the eye and asked, “Am I part of the problem?”  We were discussing a concerning level of turnover and complaints about the work environment.  What an insightful and courageous question to ask!  I wasn’t sure he really wanted an honest answer. I had a moment of gut check myself.  Would I be as courageous and honest in answering his question?  Would I choose safety or would  I choose purpose?  At Impact, we pride ourselves on doing the deeper work with our clients so they can grow in their own development and leadership.  Can I live that purpose if I choose safety over authenticity?  If I don’t risk being honest with my client?

Leaders face these dilemmas everyday, multiple times a day. Safety or purpose?  When we choose safety, we are acting out of a reactive mindset, one in which we make choices to avoid negative consequences (like he’ll fire me, I’ll lose credibility, or I’ll cause him too much hurt).  When we choose purpose and risk being truly authentic, no matter the consequences, because what we are committed to is something bigger than our fears, then we are acting out of a creative mindset. Making this shift from a reactive mindset to a creative one is not easy work.  It takes a deep, self-examination and intentional work on our parts to achieve it and most adults do not progress beyond the reactive level of development. Only about 25% ever progress to the higher stage that embodies the creative mindset.  But, the research is clear…leaders who function out of a creative mindset create a big competitive advantage.  They are the ones who create the cultures we all want to be a part of. They create the organizations that thrive. They create the future.

The Leadership Imperative
Bob makes the case that it is imperative that we do the work on ourselves as leaders, lest our organizations decline!  The type of leadership that worked in the past will not solve the problems of our more complex, fast changing business and economic environments we face today. For leaders to transform their organizations to stay competitive, they must constantly work to evolve themselves.  The flawed assumption is that we can create the new culture out of the level of consciousness, thinking, and behavior that gave rise to the old culture.  Leadership happens when one of us (at any level) decides that what is going on around us is our responsibility, that the success of the business, and our life, is in our own hands.  And that we need wait for no one to begin creating the future we want.  We become empowered when we choose to create the future we want, in the midst of the current culture, and begin the process of learning what we need to learn to do so. 

Will You Accept Our Invitation?
If you believe you are ready to do the tough and deeper work required to evolve and transform yourself and your organization, no matter your leadership level or age, we challenge you to pick up a copy of Mastering Leadership and read it. Take the free online leadership profile or let us know if you’re ready to seriously invest in your development by taking the LCP 360. We would love to go on that leadership development journey along side you! 


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