Spring is almost here in the Midwest and to honor the season, I want to highlight the generative part of helping humans and their systems grow and evolve. Our society and organizational systems are shifting so fast and furiously that the best antidote is to learn faster and more fully embrace the vulnerability and the opportunity that comes with that.
If you have read this blog before you know I LOVE the show Ted Lasso (Apple TV+). It’s fiction. I know. But so often art provides a different vision for all sorts of things. Ted Lasso does that for leadership and teams.
In season 2 of Ted Lasso, episode 10, “No Weddings and a Funeral”, the character Sam Obisanya (played by the marvelous actor Toheeb Jimoh) says to his girlfriend, Rebecca, “There is something I should warn you of, I’m only going to get more wonderful.”
This scene is impossible for me to forget! It so reminds me of the work I do and what I hope to evoke from the leaders and teams with whom I (am so very lucky) to work. My peeps in learning and development all know that growing can be so difficult, painful at times, that we often forget that it is also joyful! Becoming more skillful has such a return on investment for all of us. But in the middle of the chaos of new learning, it’s easy to forget this.
Trying out new ways of being, testing new behaviors or language can be unsettling and uncomfortable. It’s as true for all my clients as it is for me. By the time we are adults we have often become knowledgeable and highly competent. We have a track record of success and all the "habits of mind", or "stuckness", that comes with that. Learning a new way to listen, communicate, manage conflict, coach our teams, or whatever we are trying to develop, often feels off at first. Like a garment that doesn’t fit or flatter us. We feel vulnerable, especially when the new behaviors we need to practice are in public forums, with our teams or in meetings.
When clients tell me that they are worried they will look fake trying a new approach or new behavior, I say that this is normal. Feeling fake is part of the process. New things or new ways often feel fake. And truthfully it may look fake at first, especially if your team knows you well and have gotten used to your habits (and they have). We all exist in a system and systems depend on homeostasis to function even more than individuals do. So, it’s common for your boss, peers, direct reports or other stakeholders to become skeptical or unsettled by your experiments. In fact, one of the things that makes leadership development so difficult is that not only do we depend upon our habits of being, but everyone else we work (and live with) do too. Sometimes people don’t want us to change, because then they might have to change too.
If you are serious about becoming a more effective, successful leader, keep going. As you practice new behaviors, they will start to feel more comfortable. The end game is to be more skillful, to evoke the best, most purposeful contribution from others and yourself. When you start to see the positive outcomes of the changes you endeavor to make, it’s highly probable you will feel accomplished, happy and experience greater ease at work and in life.
The magic that happens when already amazing, fully competent adults give themselves permission to try something new, experiment, make intelligent mistakes, meet those with self-compassion and learn is thrilling! Letting go of at least some of the fear and acting from a more curious, open-minded, learning mindset can be exceptionally freeing.
In fact, the most fantastic outcome of stretching, learning and growing is greater flexibility and freedom to choose the best and most effective approach or response regardless of whatever comes our way. Believe me, you will only get more wonderful!
I write this. No AI tools used. Not opposed to them (yet). I like the act of writing. I believe we learn to THINK and DISCERN when we write and that seems important to me. I founded Leadership Consulting Partners over 20 years ago to collaborate with leaders, teams and organizations to create more productive, effective, and human people systems and practices. If you are reading this to the end, and you find value, please say so and share with others on LinkedIn and Twitter. Thank you!
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Welcome to Moira's blog. I write a (mostly) monthly post about the work of building better work places: people strategies, systems, teams and leaders.