I have been reflecting on two quotations for a few weeks now:
First, Bill O’Brien’s “The success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervener.”
And Carl Jung’s “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
In combination, they point to the nature of leadership as an inside out game that is predicated on awareness and intentionality.
This matters even more, specifically when leading during times of change, and more generally, when leading in complex contexts more. Why?
As a leader, change will challenge you in multiple ways. The inner place you lead from will likely determine how you respond to these challenges. If lead from a reactive state of mind, you will likely react to what you perceive to be threats to your self-perception in a manner which you hope will return you to your place of safety. For instance, if your sense of identity is predominantly defined in relation to external factors (e.g. if you need to be liked, or seen as capable and smart, or seen as successful), by yourself and by others, then you’ll do what it takes to restore this sense of safety in your identity.
Yet when you react from that inner place, your conscious and/or unconscious behaviours may restore short-term safety at the expense of long-term results you aspire to as a leader.
Think of yourself like a snooker player. Under pressure from an opponent and worrying about losing, you unconsciously under- or over-hit every shot, rather than simply focusing on potting the ball in front of you and on how you want to set up your next shot. Snooker is not just about potting about the ball, but also about one’s strategy to clear as many balls as possible in a row.
Unless you are Ronnie O’Sullivan, Stephen Hendry or Steve Davis, snooker is not just a complicated business. It is a complex game. And therefore, mere mortals cannot see the path to a 147 at the start of a frame.
Back to what this means for you as a leader and how your interior condition is crucial to the game you play.
Moving from a reactive to a creative structure of mind allows you to play to win, to take considered risks. Imagine that you remain aware any emotional or mental frisson you are experiencing AND you are able to separate yourself from it. When you lead and play from this place, you can focus and rely on your purpose and values to guide you. You can notice when fear or excitement arrives, and then you’re able to respond to it, rather than giving in to involuntarily reacting to them.
The cultivating of this purposeful, respond-able interior condition is what allows leaders to navigate complexity, adversity and uncertainty in a manner which serves their colleagues, team and organisation.
As co-active coaches, using technologies like the Immunity to Change and the Leadership Circle Profile frameworks, we support leaders to cultivate the interior condition (the mindset and heart) that will allow them to thrive and prosper and to shape the systems of which they are part so the whole can thrive and prosper as well.
Curious? Message me today to explore how we could support your leaders to grow to meet the challenges your organisation faces right now. (email@example.com)