Growth is a difficult challenge. It is not easy. And it typically never occurs as a single event. Rather, it is a process that happens over time. Although growth can be fast-and sometimes mandated-it is ultimately rooted in the power of choice. It may be an elective but the alternative is maintaining the status quo, or even shrinking.
So how do we grow—in influence, in effectiveness, in skills? There is a clear and concise growth strategy outlined for us in The Leadership Challenge. Let's step through model to see its application in our everyday lives.
Step One: Establish some prioritized beliefs or values to understand our own commitment to development. The leadership practice of Model the Way provides the guidance we need to establish this list. With a little self-examination, we can pick the values we want to live by, and these values can serve to direct our motivation and define our calls to action.
Step Two: Identify and describe the future state we are trying to create. The leadership practice of Inspire a Shared Vision is designed to create this picture for us and to engage our constituents in the growth process. Any great growth strategy is best accomplished by enlisting some support from those around us, and these people want to know where we are trying to go and why. Supported with tools like metaphors, similes, word pictures, repetition, and intonation, we can create a compelling image in the eyes and minds of our constituents.
Step Three: Make a change of some kind. This leadership practice of Challenge the Process provides us with the ideas and suggestions to try something new. Experiment and learn from the experience. Whether it works or it doesn't, we can apply the learning and improve over time.
Step Four: Implement the leadership practice of Enable Others to Act. Here we are able to develop more cooperative relationships with those around us, building trust and trusting intentions while also creating more effective communications among our constituents. Growth is difficult but the more we engage and enlist those around us-with information and resources-our own actions and theirs will be enhanced.
Step Five: The very important and often overlooked leadership practice of Encourage the Heart. This is both the recognition and celebration of the small and large accomplishments we achieve along the developmental growth path. Increasing our awareness of what warrants recognition, and then making the praise or reward visible to others and to ourselves, bolsters our resilience during the growth process. Encouraging our own hearts for taking the steps needed for growth will foster our ongoing commitment to grow.
In a world that is continually changing and evolving, our best option is to choose to grow-or risk being left behind as the world changes around us. Following the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® as outlined in The Leadership Challenge is our practical roadmap to growth.
Are you ready? Are you ready to choose to GROW?
Craig Haptonstall is President and CEO of Leadership Mechanics LLC. With a corporate career that has included Southwest Airlines and The Tom Peters Company, he also is a Master Facilitator of The Leadership Challenge Workshop® and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.