When it comes to the outcomes in our personal and professional lives, there is basically no factor more important than the decisions we make, or fail to make. Our decisions are at the root of almost every experience we have, both good and bad. While our starting points may differ, our decisions are what set things in motion and initiate behaviors that will become habits that deliver the results we produce. That being the case, it would make sense for us to approach our decisions as effectively as possibly, but unfortunately, in many organizations especially, that is not the case.
The defining moments of our transformation journeys are those moments when we experience a setback or encounter an unforeseen challenge. A vision you believe in and a plan you are willing to follow are necessities to get started, but sooner or later, something happens that has the potential to take the wind out of your sails. Resilience in the face of these challenges is what separates those who conquer seemingly insurmountable odds to claim ultimate success, and those who eventually accept defeat and fail to accomplish their goals.
Our growth journey from being individual contributors to eventually leading others almost always starts with acquiring new knowledge and developing new skills. For some, indeed, these are the only areas in which they are interested in pursuing growth and development. They take pride in what they know and in the results they deliver, confident in their ability to do the work themselves or direct others to do so effectively.
I get asked all the time about what is required to show up as a Transformative Leader. They are usually very good questions because of how deceptively simple they seem. Can anyone be a Transformative Leader? What kind of knowledge, skills, or experience do you need? Do you have to have people reporting to you? Do you need to be in a particular position? Do you have to have a supportive boss? What if your boss is not a Transformative Leader? Where do you start?
Let’s face it. Fear mongering works! At least on some level. That’s why some so-called leaders resort to it. They attract followers by convincing people that the sky is falling and things are going to go from bad to worse unless everyone else follows their lead. As much as you and I don’t want to believe it, the truth is that a great number of people do respond to tactics like this. In fact, even those of us who consider ourselves immune to overt forms of fear mongering because we “know better” are subject to acting out of fear in more subtle ways, often under the pretext that we know the “truth” and look down on those who don’t. Some of us buy products and services because we have been convinced that without them, we wouldn’t be safe or secure. Others of us vote for political candidates who scare us into thinking that unless they are elected, the world will be a completely miserable and dangerous place. Sometimes we even abandon pretext entirely and resign ourselves, albeit brazenly and proudly, to only looking out for “numero uno.” We might compromise our values and principles in the workplace for the fear that we would lose our job if we refused to fall in line, or we give in the petty fear of ridicule and failure instead of taking a chance to try something new. The most granular result of fear mongering comes down to this one attitude, that is, “I’ve got mine and the sky can fall on everyone else.” I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound very inspiring or interdependent to me.