To Locate Our Leadership Direction We Need to Dig Deep
This past week I needed to replace my old gas lines with new pipes to connect with an updated system. Although going through the process was a bit uncomfortable, there really was no choice if I no longer wanted water in my gas line. To make this happen, the gas company had to dig deep to locate my current hook-ups and re-trench my property with the new pipes. Holding off was just a temporary solution and a poor choice at that. I had to embrace this total property upheaval if I no longer wanted to lose heat or hot water.
In the same way, we all have busy careers that don’t afford us a lot of time to come up for air and dig deep to discover what kind of leaders we want to be. Even if we don’t want to feel uncomfortable or stressed, we know that we need to constantly grow to be influential leaders. We can delay our thinking about our leadership direction temporarily until we run amuck and realize that we no longer can just swim around in our old thinking and patterns.
To locate our leadership direction we need to dig deep.
Today is the day to dig deep to realign your leadership pipeline.
WHAT’S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW?
Before the gas company could upgrade my gas lines, they needed to evaluate what was taking place in my current situation. They needed to fully assess where all the pipes were located and what was causing the water in the line. Similarly, leaders need to make a full evaluation on how their leadership is going today.
- How would you describe you leadership?
- What kinds of places are you leading in?
- Has your leadership evolved? In what way?
- Do you have a leadership mantra that guides you? What is it?
IS THERE ANY NEED FOR A CHANGE AND WHY?
When we conduct an assessment we realize what is going well and what still needs to be tweaked. Additionally, we need to dig deep and identify specifically what isn’t working and why we aren’t feeling successful. For example, if we sense that we aren’t being heard when we speak up in meetings, we need to look at what is causing the disconnection. Sometimes asking a colleague, co-worker or boss can be insightful for us.
WHAT SEEMS FASCINATING OR NECESSARY?
Have you been reading about some intriguing new strategies or ideas that you would want to incorporate into your leadership? Have you received feedback about an area you may want to explore or improve? These kinds of questions can often guide where you want to focus your explorations. Look at areas to strengthen your skills and well as topics that motivate you. Both can provide a wonderful balance in growing forward.
To locate your leadership direction find areas to grow skills as well as your mind.
WHAT ARE THE FIRST STEPS?
Create a plan by writing down what you specifically need to change or learn about to follow this new leadership direction.
- List all the changes that seem important or essential
- Choose one or two areas to work on and write out the actions you want to take
- Give timeframes and ways you will measure success
- Choose an accountability partner to help you stay on track
IS THERE A NEED TO GET HELP FROM OTHERS AND WHO?
This is where we need to be brave and assertive. We need to think of who can help us reach our next milestones. We need to dig deep. If we want to learn some new skills or have exposure to a different department in our organization, we need to think of who can set up connections for us. Is there someone who already has the knowledge that we can shadow?
HOW WILL I MEASURE THIS NEW LEADERSHIP DIRECTION?
Finally establish ways to measure your success. How will you know when you are on the right path to your chosen leadership direction? Decide on what your leadership will look like and feel like. Then you will know for sure when you are there.
How do you dig deep to locate your leadership direction?
Why Lasting Change Is Hard
Before we had any children, my wife and I lived in the heart of Dallas. One day, on our way back to our house, we were driving down Skillman Avenue when we were caught in a sudden torrential downpour.
The rain was coming down incredibly hard, which wouldn’t have been a problem if the storm drains were equipped to handle that much water. Instead, the road itself filled with water faster than we could have anticipated. Quickly, the water rose up the side of our car. Trying not to panic, we realized that we could not continue and would need to turn around and get to higher ground.
Water rising up the side of your car door is the kind of roadblock you might not expect to encounter, but when you do, it’s formidable. We couldn’t drive through it or even around it. We had to deal with it quickly or face serious consequences.
When we’re trying to implement change in our own lives, it’s important to identify and plan for common roadblocks to lasting change.
The first and, in my opinion, most important roadblock to lasting change is not addressing the real issue.
Let’s say you wake up in the middle of the night with a sore throat. You’re annoyed by feeling sick but your throat really hurts, so you get up and spray a little Chloraseptic in your mouth and drift off to sleep. When you wake up the next day, you still have a sore throat, so you pop in a cough drop and go about your day.
The change you’re making – using a numbing agent – might work if you’ve only got a cold, but if it’s strep throat, you’re not addressing the real problem. Only an antibiotic will cure what ails you, even if Chloraseptic will keep the pain at bay for a while.
Just like how more information is needed to diagnose your sore throat than one feeling, problems you encounter in your life or business require diagnostics, too. Figuring out the real problem – not just your most apparent needs – requires some introspection and a little bit of time.
Here are eight questions to ask when you need to discover the root cause, courtesy of MindTools.com:
- What do you see happening?
- What are the specific symptoms?
- What proof do you have that the problem exists?
- How long has the problem existed?
- What is the impact of the problem?
- What sequence of events leads to the problem?
- What conditions allow the problem to occur?
- What other problems surround the occurrence of the central problem?
Once you have your answers to these key questions, you can’t stop there. Your vantage point is skewed from your own perspective. You’re going to want to ask someone else to evaluate the problem at hand with the same questions and then compare your answers.
If you and all of the partners at your firm have similar answers, you’ll know you’re on the right track. If you wind up with wildly different ideas, I suggest seeking the advice of someone outside your organization. Fresh eyes can make all the difference in understanding a problem.
I often talk about being ‘too close’ to understand. You’ve probably heard the illustration about a group of people standing by an elephant with blindfolds on, trying to describe what they’re experiencing. Depending on what part of the elephant you’re next to, you’re going to have different observations.
But someone outside of that elephant’s cage can clearly identify the elephant.
The first key to making a lasting change is to make sure you’ve addressed the real problem and are looking for authentic change.
Next time, we’ll address the second major roadblock to creating last change.
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