The impact we have in the world is a function of what we do regularly. But how do we decide what we do regularly? Easy, we just do what we did the last time.
In most instances, our past behavior determines our future behavior.
Indeed, neuroscientists and behavioral psychologists estimate that between 40% – 95% of our behavior is habitual – it is simply what we did the previous time in the same or similar situation.
The cycle is simple: something happens in our external environment and we receive a cue, a routine is commenced (habit) and we receive a reward (often the avoidance of a threat or perceived external punishment) which reinforces the behavior. Many of these patterns of thinking and behaving illustrate Robert Kegan’s concept of the Socialised Mind and The Leadership Circle’s (TLC) concept of the Reactive Level of Leadership. They hold that when we adopt a reactive leadership style, i.e. responding to perceived external threats by engaging in behavior which seeks to minimize the risk the threat presents, that we emphasise “caution over creating results, self-protection over productive engagement, and aggression over building alignment.” (Anderson, and Adams, 2016)
This in turn emphasises behaviors which seek to create the reward of belonging to the group (approval of others), protecting self and ego (avoiding vulnerability) and generating results by restricting the scope of others to act independently (controlling). Safety becomes prized over success.
Reacting to the external environment limits our ability to draw on the natural creativity and energy of ourselves and others.
The goal of any organisation, therefore is to build the capacity of its leadership to creatively generate thinking, behavior and courses of action which arise not from a place of fear, but from a place of vision and possibility.
The secret to moving from a reactive to creative mindset is for leaders to become aware of the beliefs, assumptions and stories which create the context for their lives and drive their behavior.
By challenging assumptions about the world and addressing beliefs, leaders can choose beliefs and create assumptions that allow them to show up in the world creatively – i.e. choosing how they respond in any given situation, rather than reacting to what they experience in their external environment.
Creative leadership matters. Being at choice matters.
Choose Leadership is committed to developing the leadership capability of purpose driven organisations to allow these organisations to thrive. Why? Because organisations play a pivotal role in transforming business and society. And we are aligned behind the idea that an organization cannot develop beyond the level of consciousness of its leadership. And, organisations need to better support all of their people in developing their leadership capability in order to flourish and thrive.