Improving Leadership Capacity and Capabilities, Part II: Putting Strategy into Action
If there is one thing we have learned in recent years, it is that change is a given in almost every aspect of our lives. It is a constant that is unavoidable, but with it comes opportunities to create a future that meets our shifting needs.
In Part I of our “Improving Leadership Capacity and Capabilities” series, we shared a three-pronged approach to mastering your unique, ever-changing circumstances and becoming an influential leader. Below, we outline how to begin adopting these approaches in your life and workplace, and how the implementation will support you in navigating the contours of change with confidence and courage.
With a beginner’s mind, explore your inner landscape — the hills and valleys of your emotional world. What are your passions and your values? What really lights you up and drives you to take action? What triggers you and sets the stage for disruptive thoughts and behaviors? Extend this curiosity to others as well; become an anthropologist fascinated by the inner experiences of others. Having a greater breadth of understanding and tolerance for the complexity of humanity changes how we relate to one another – how we navigate challenging conversations, problem solve, resolve conflict and navigate communal adversity.
Failure is often seen as something to be avoided at all costs, yet an impossible expectation. Recent wisdom from the likes of business gurus encourages failure as a way of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and taking risks. Simon Sinek encourages conceptualizing failure as “falling” in order to normalize the experience and highlight getting back up and trying again. Trying something new, falling, getting back up and trying again is a cornerstone of innovation. However, this is only possible when we can embrace accountability with courage and vulnerability. Reframing failure and adopting the mindset that your shortcomings are simply opportunities for change or growth. It sets the foundation for agile responses and shifting our mental paradigms.
A useful and strategic practice is to hold things lightly. While maintaining direction, focus, and purpose, hold lightly to a desired outcome. Simultaneously embrace letting go and leaning in – show up with drive and dedication, control what you can and be prepared to realign or release when necessary.
Additionally, being aware of the inherent obstructive qualities of our biases and preconceived notions allows them to be set aside, thus making space for ingenuity, creativity, innovation, and iteration.
Unlearn and Relearn
So much of who we are and how we show up in our lives is predicated on past experiences. Leveraging strategies that worked before, to navigate a current challenge, is a reasonable approach. However, those tactics may be outdated or inadequate for the disruptions we are facing today. At the onset of the pandemic, government, businesses, and each one of us had to rapidly pivot how we functioned in order to survive circumstances never before encountered. We know firsthand the power of rapidly shifting our mindset for the purpose of survival. Intentionally leaning into the pivot, unlearning and relearning, is an effective leadership strategy. Discovering new ways of working and being is required now more than ever.
Look for opportunities to expand your knowledge base. “You don’t know what you don’t know” reminds us of the presence of potential blind spots and growth edges. Embrace this awareness as an opportunity to expand your capabilities.
Ask “What else is possible?”
Humans brains are designed to fill in the space between what we actually know and what remains a mystery. It is the essence of our survival to be predictive, assessing the potential threat in our environment and rapidly developing a plan for survival. When our survival is actually threatened, this instinctual response is necessary. The propensity to make sense out of our experiences, our interpretation of events or circumstances, becomes maladaptive when we anchor into the “story” as the factual truth. When we divorce ourselves from the “story” and open to the question, “what else is possible?” an endless stream of options unfold.
Conscient Strategies was founded with the idea that every organization is capable of thriving through change. With a focus on strategy development, program implementation, workplace dynamics, and leadership development, Conscient Strategies equips leaders with the tools necessary to continuously navigate the constancy of change in ways that not only benefit their team, but, equally as important, their business outcomes as well. From mergers to c-suite changes to sudden or explosive growth, organizations turn to Conscient Strategies when change is threatening their financial health and cultural wellbeing.
Based in Washington, D.C., Conscient Strategies is comprised of a talented group of consultants, executive coaches, strategists, and account executives. The team has worked with organizations of all sizes in the private, federal, and non-profit sectors across the United States and Internationally.
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