3 Paradoxes of Leadership All Leaders Should Know

A Journey From the Unknown to the Known

Photo by Lucas Ludwig on Unsplash

I often write about paradoxes, well, because life is full of them. Really. And, as we recognize a paradox, we are poised to reconcile what is seemingly unknown into something that is known. Yep.

And, how does that aid leaders? Well, first, I consider leadership something that lives inside of everyone. Yep.

Leadership is something we can all do; and, in fact, leadership is something that most of us already do. Really. In some way in our life, we lead. Even if the leading you do is just for you; you are still leading.

And, we also know that in leadership the self is where it all starts. Yep. Also tue. Leadership goes out from you to everyone and everything else. It’s just how it works.

Leaders also need to know that most things are unknown, and that we know far less than is knowable. Important.

Therefore, inside of a paradox, there is an opportunity to turn something unknown into known, which is helpful for yourself, yep, and for everyone you are leading.

Now, before we go further, let’s define leadership, so we are all on the same page. Okay? Good. Here we go.

leadership

Pronunciation /ˈlēdərˌSHip/ /ˈlidərˌʃɪp/ 

NOUN

The action of leading a group of people or an organization.

The state or position of being a leader.

Lexico

Right. Pretty ambiguous. Hm.

Let’s try lead instead. Here we go.

lead

Pronunciation /lēd/ /lid/ 

TRANSITIVE VERB led

[WITH OBJECT]

Cause (a person or animal) to go with one by holding them by the hand, a halter, a rope, etc. while moving forward.

Show (someone or something) the way to a destination by going in front of or beside them.

Lexico

Ah, much better. Here is what we have so far. A leader is someone that goes with someone, or shows someone something by going in front of or beside them. Very good.

Alright, so what are these three paradoxes? Right. Let’s get right into our discussion, shall we? Good. Here we go.

Photo by Kevar Whilby on Unsplash

1. The Real and The Ideal

As a leader it is important to know the current reality. Meaning to know your strengths and weaknesses, and that of the teams. Super important. Yet, that’s not all. Nope.

You must also communicate that reality, and do so often. One of the most important functions in leadership is setting the pace and the reality. A reality that will include both strengths and weaknesses. It has to.

We all have areas to develop, as do teams, and when we own them, guess what?

We have now created a context that welcomes development, one that is open and growth-oriented. Fun.

Now, once you know and have communicated the current reality, it is time to begin to balance the real (current state or reality) with the ideal (future state or reality). Very important.

And, how this is done is predicated on knowing that everything we do today informs tomorrow, and that tomorrow is simply a mirror of today. Yep. Say more? Of course. Here we go.

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

2. Today and Tomorrow

Alright, so when we cast a vision for our life or our team, we are setting down in language that which we want to accomplish in a certain amount of time. Might be a week, a month, a year, or several years. Depends.

What matters is that we tie that vision, those specific goals, to objectives and priorities that we can set our sights on and work towards each day. Yep.

When we connect our daily actions to our long-term goals, we are actively creating tomorrow today. Wait, what? Yes. It’s true.

When we take actions today that are connected to goals we have in the future, we are creating our future from this very moment. Therefore, when we take action today, tomorrow ends up being a mirror of today. Meaning?

We are actively actualizing tomorrow’s goals today. One action at a time. Fun. And, truth.

The concept of creating your future from today is a very powerful concept for leaders, teams, and, well, everyone. And, what happens when we create a context full of this type of possibility?

Well, we lead, yes, and so do those around us. It works that way.

Photo by Joseph Pearson on Unsplash

3. Lead and Follow

Right, so leadership as we’ve defined it has to do with going out in front, paving the way, if you will, with a vision that ties back to objectives and priorities that you, and your team, if you have one, work on each day. Yep.

And, when you are out in front like that, sometimes, you will have to pull back a bit, as the team moves closer to you. Yep. Or, if they are moving quickly, you may have to go out in front even further. Depends. And, guess what?

Sometimes, your team will move right on past you. Yep. Can and does happen. It is a beautiful thing to see really. And, when that happens?

No problem here, you, like they would, catch back up. Simple. The point?

That leadership is a complex, and yet very simple, set of relationships you have. First with yourself. Always with yourself first. And, then with everyone else around you.

Relationships are leadership. And, leadership is about having high-quality relationships. Yep. Bottom line? Sure.

Leaders lead and follow, both. They are, in fact, one and the same. Not separate at all. One.

Alright, so there are three leadership paradoxes that, when we have an awareness of how they function, create a context where we are connecting the unknown of tomorrow, or 5 years from now, to today. Meaning?

That we are creating the known from the unknown. In this very moment, in fact. And, well, that’s fun, and powerful.

#creatingthefuture, #fromtheunknowntothenkown, #humandevelopment, #leadandfollow, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipmindset, #leadershipparadox, #therealandtheideal, #todayandtomorrow

One BHAG, Two BHAG, and Creating a Disruption Vision

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is rahul-bhosale-ybgc-qvcxmg-unsplash.jpg
Photo by Rahul Bhosale on Unsplash

Two weeks ago, I wrote the post Creating a Big Hairy Audacious Goal: The Creation of the BHAG. In that post, I wrote about the possibility of creating a BHAG that lives inside of another BHAG. Having two BHAGs makes sense, especially right now in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I termed the BHAG that, at the time was just being created and not yet delivered, a disruption BHAG. And, seeing as the team I work with will get that BHAG Monday morning, I thought writing this piece made good sense. Plus, I made a promise. So, let’s go.

Here are 3 keys to creating a disruption BHAG.

Key #1: Let go of yesterday

To create a disruption BHAG, you must be open to creating from where you stand right now, at this moment. Meaning, you must be willing to let go of what you’ve done up to this point in your team, business, or organization. ALL of it. Especially those things that have worked well. They will not work the same in the future. Let them go.

Letting pieces of a business model, or a process or system go is not easy. Especially when they have worked well. However, you must be willing to let them go. Why? Because if you do not, you will not be able to visualize and put into practice new business models, processes, and systems. And, they are needed.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us were forced to let go of things we were doing, whether they worked well or not. And, now I am inviting you to not only let go of those things, but to also create new ways of working with your team, running your business, or developing your organization. A must.

Photo by Paul Gilmore on Unsplash

Example #1

We create about 300 classes and training opportunities per quarter. They are all in-person. When COVID-19 began to take hold locally, we had to pivot, AND, let go of all the things we had done previously that had worked well for us. Difficult. However, that is the only way to envision a new future. Otherwise, you are always tethered to what was. And, in what was, or the past, there is no future to create. You are simply reproducing yesterday.

Reality check. We went from 300 in-person classes and training opportunties to about 50. Yet, those 50 offerings paved the way for 73 the next quarter, which is now paving the way to our goal of 150 this fall. Movement.

That was the first step in creating the possibility of getting to a disruption vision. Letting go. What was next?

Key #2: Create processes and systems to support the new work

Once you’ve let go of how your team, business, or organization was doing business, you will now begin to create a new business model, and inside of this new business model, you will need new processes and systems to support it.

  • First – get clear on the need, and the new components of the business model.
  • Second – create those new components, move them forward.
  • Third – get clear on the processes and systems needed to support the new business model.
  • Fourth – solidify those processes, systematize them, and document them.

It is important to not get stuck in creating processes or systems until you have developed the business model. Why? Because if you get stuck in thinking about developing a process without understanding the need, and the associated business offering, you will not move forward. The process and systematization will come through creating the new model.

Don’t forget to document the new processes and systems. Very important. Why? Because these are now a part of your business model, and may always be. I know for all of the new business components we’ve added to our business model, they will stay, and will continue to be offered. Let’s look at another example.

Photo by Philipp Mandler on Unsplash

Example #2

Once we created the remote, online, and remote classes, we began to ask the process and system question. And, as was aforementioned, some of these new processes and systems organically developed along the way.

For instance, in developing these new classes, and pivoting our business model 180 degrees, we knew that communicating with the local community was imperative. We filled this need by creating a communication process, and a system, which was also documented to ensure we were regularly communicating with all of our clients, students, and partners. Important.

Key #3: Create the Disruption BHAG

Once you’ve let go of the way you were doing business, and have created new ways to do business, which include new processes and systems that are documented, you are ready to create the new BHAG. How?

3 simple steps

  1. Brainstorm – or, as I’ve termed this in other posts and videos, get your ideas out. It seems very simple when reading, I know, yet, I also know that it is not that easy for everyone. Especially when we are inundated with day-to-day operations. Yet, creating time to think is a needed and necessary strategy for every leader.
  2. Connect them to the larger BHAG – once your ideas are out, see which ones connect naturally to your team, business, or organizations BHAG. Then play with those ideas, and ask yourself a few questions:
    1. Where are we going?
    2. Why are we going there; and,
    3. How are we going to get there?
      1. When you can answer these questions about the larger BHAG, and can see how your new ideas fit into that BHAG, you are almost ready to create the disruption BHAG. Yet before you do, I invite you to reflect.
  3. Reflect and contemplate – let the ideas sit for a little while. And, continue to reflect and contemplate until you are clear on the disruption BHAG. Once you are clear, write it down.

Once you have the disruption BHAG written down, I suggest letting it sit for a little while. I let the one I created recently sit for a couple of weeks. I continued to play with the language and the concepts, and am clearer on the BHAG for doing so. And, the clearer you are, the clearer your team, business, or organization will be.

Photo by Matt Noble on Unsplash

The invitation

Now that you have your new disruption BHAG ready-to-go, it is time to invite the team, business, or organization that you work with to this new vision. You can do this in many different ways. Yet, I do recommend connecting deeply with the people you work with about this new BHAG. They must see themselves inside this new vision, and you are the one to show them this possibility.

Example #3

Alright, we are still in the midst of COVID-19, and the team is still remote. How do I invite them to this new BHAG vision? Hm. Not sure? I wasn’t either. Until I had a conversation with a colleague. They said, “you should do a video.” Wait, what? I’ve never done a video before. Uh, oh.

Well, that is exactly what I did. Cut to many takes later, and hours worth of time spent learning how to upload a video correctly – use YouTube, please, very easy, will save you time – and I have a 6-minute video. Phew. Was awesome.

The email, video, and worksheet will go out Monday morning. I am super excited.

I believe that people are moved by their hearts. You must pull them from there to create anything that will last; and, because I was not able to create the BHAG with them, the video, I do believe, is the next best thing. Looking forward to Monday.

Remember, you can create an additional BHAG inside of the one you currently have. Actually, I think this is the best time to create a new BHAG. A disruption BHAG. Having a new BHAG will create a context that is specific to this next year. As we all know, all teams, businesses, and organizations will be different this next year. Why?

Because, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve all changed. And, it is inside of this change that you can create new momentum for your team, business, or organization. And, you can do this by connecting with people in a new way through a disruption BHAG, which can live inside of the longer-term BHAG already in existence.

#bhag, #business, #creatingprocess, #creatingsystems, #creatingthefuture, #disruptionvision, #goalsetting, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #lettinggo, #organizationaldevelopment, #strategicplanning, #strategicthinking, #teamdevelopment, #visioning