Leadership in the Heat of Battle | Transformation #2: Going Beyond Who You Are Now

Leaders must often make impossibilities happen. How do you do that?

We all have a view of what is possible. Additionally, we have ways of functioning that we know produce results and achieve objectives.

To make an impossibility happen, you must expand the scope of what is possible, and you must go beyond your habitual ways of getting things done.

Take a moment and answer the following question:

What characteristics, abilities, traits do you rely on in yourself to accomplish things? Make a list. I’ll be silent while you write. Take a couple of minutes…

OK—times up.

Second question:

What is something you want to make happen or achieve—something big, something beyond what you’ve accomplished before—perhaps an impossibility? Take a moment and write that down…

If you compare the two lists, and you’ve picked something big enough, you can see that list 1 is insufficient to accomplish list 2.

You must go beyond who you are now, your “comfort zone”. But even more than this, the very strengths you rely on are at the same time your limitations.

If you look at this from a neuroscience perspective, what’s stored in your brain, among everything else, are sets of patterns of behaviors that worked in the past to give you what you wanted. These patterns, or from neuroscience, these sets of neuronal patterns, get “activated”. Like calling up a particular program in a computer. The brain, which is designed for our survival, is a repository, a library of such winning patterns for us to get by, succeed, win, even to survive.

Although we may think you are acting freely, when closely examined, you can start to see the repetitive nature of these behaviors. And they worked! In the past. Here’s the problem: when you are presented with situations that are not the same as the past, that have elements in them, complexities, that  you’ve never encountered before—OR if you want to make something happen, produce a result, beyond anything you’ve ever accomplished before—an impossibility—then these patterns from the past may not serve you. Starting when you are a child, through your teen years, and through your early adulthood, you and I formulate these strategies. Then we get stuck with them.

Example: 

A CEO of a growing technology company who was very hands on, getting involved in everything, as the company expanded, became unable to control it all.

He had to begin trusting, managing/delegating to, and empowering others.

He had to go beyond the strengths, abilities, approaches that had worked in the past, and discover new ways to think, relate, plan, communicate, act to be appropriate to the scale of opportunity now in front of him.

So, the second transformation of a leader is this…

to recognize these habitual formulas, begin to see how they limit, and be willing to go beyond them to achieve something big, something extraordinary, perhaps something currently impossible!



Your comments and questions about Leadership Transformation #2 above, and our earlier post for Leadership Transformation #1 (here) are very welcome.

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