I have witnessed a number of leaders who have meaningfully transformed themselves and their leadership. In each case, the first step was the most difficult. This is because when these leaders were ready for deep transformation, it meant it was time to come face-to-face with the reality of who they really are. They had the courage to face themselves even though it was a destabilizing proposition.
When leaders are unwilling to accept the truth about themselves they can turn on the messenger with ferocity. This is why, in some organizations, opportunities to communicate the truth are not embraced by reporting officers. As a result, the truth is never communicated and the leaders are given feedback that is polite and ineffective.
There are times when leaders are reluctant to take self-transformative steps because they know changes in their behaviours can alter their entire world. For example, some leaders who are in highly political organizations may become voiceless over time because speaking up has its consequences. Especially when their ideas have the potential to negate the ideas of power players who do not and will not take kindly to being openly challenged, regardless the tone.
Despite the barriers to change that may exist, when leaders want to achieve authentic change within a team it requires personal reflection and self-management. In addition to courage, commitment is also important because we all have limiting qualities we cannot perceive about ourselves, they are sometimes blind spots we are unwilling or unable to perceive.
One way to detect these indiscernible spots is to think about the undesired qualities we judge in others, they are sometimes qualities we possess, and cannot acknowledge. This makes them difficult to resolve because by their very nature they are hidden with emotional triggers that protect them.
So why is the transformation of leaders important? There are multiple reasons. One of the more significant ones is that individual leader evolution is central to successful team and organizational change. There are many reasons why change happens, sometimes it is connected to personal agendas, but when it is based on shared goals that are driving team success, the organization will only go as far as the leaders can take it. So individual leader growth and development is important because it is central to continued organizational growth.
The opportunity for organizational growth can be a driver of change but the potential for individual growth is also inherent in it. Leaders can choose to grow before a change is implemented and set goals for their own development or they can be changed by it. Both approaches can be deliberate, both can be effective. It depends on how each leader grows best, resources available, and commitment to growth.
Some leaders work with mentors, or coaches. This approach works well if the leader being developed can use support with accountability to improving their skills, stretching their thinking and perceiving their pesky blind spots. Other leaders develop themselves on a personally driven path, attending courses, trying out new ideas, journaling triumphs and challenges. They are dedicated to their own evolution, on a path that is personal and private to them.
Both paths can support leaders with digging deep and bring about lasting, meaningful change. I have witnessed leaders who were coached who continued to experience the effects of breakthroughs ideas long after the coaching session. This is because breakthroughs happen in layers, it like peeling away the layers of an onion.
Leaders don’t always perceive the many different ways they applied a limiting belief system so a breakthrough understanding is sometimes restricted a single context. In other circumstances leaders perceive multiple contexts where they can apply their new learning. It all depends on how persons integrate new information so patience with yourself is key to your growth.
Leaders who develop themselves and genuinely care about the development of members of their team are in a better position to help others to grow. The most effective leaders I have encountered are dedicated to the development of the members of their teams. They know that when their team performs, they are performing. They know that changes will keep coming so they continue to invest in themselves and their teams.
Yvette Bethel is CEO of Organizational Soul, an Organizational Effectiveness Consulting and Leadership Development company. She is a Consultant, Trainer, Speaker, Facilitator, Executive Coach, Author, and Emotional Intelligence Practitioner. If you are interested Yvette's ideas on other leadership topics you can sign up for her newsletter at www.yvettebethel.com or you can listen to her podcast at Evolve Podcast.