Who are you as a leader? Who are you as a transformation leader?
“Who am I as a transformation leader?” – this was the question put to me and the other participants in the wrap-up of Michael Hamman’s and Michael Spayd’s Enterprise Coach Mastercamp. Together, we had journeyed through different lenses for making sense of the organization, its leaders, its systems, and the process of change – but perhaps most importantly, lenses for making sense of ourselves and how we, as instruments of change, limit or open “what’s possible” because of our own way of seeing the world. As a way of encouraging our ongoing development, we were challenged to reflect on the question, “who am I as a transformation leader?”
In the time surrounding my attendance at this mastercamp, I’ve been in the search for my next role. I’ve received guidance and advice from career experts, longtime friends, and new acquaintances. I’ve been through a branding exercise – which, like a company branding exercise I was part of several years ago, begins with the question “who are you and what are you known for?” I’m known for creating clarity, solving complex problems, excellence in software, leading in challenging situations… but who am I as a transformation leader?
An article came my way today, reminding me of Brené Brown’s leadership description: “I define a leader as anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential.” Ahh, there’s something here. And this takes me back to one of the opening paragraphs in Brian J. Robertson’s book, Holacracy – a paragraph I revisit from time to time because of the great human capacity it names:
The human capacity to sense dissonance in the present moment and see the potential for change strikes me as one of our most extraordinary gifts—our restless, never-satisfied, creative spirit that keeps us always reaching beyond where we are. When we feel that sense of frustration at a system that’s not working, or a mistake that keeps getting repeated, or a process that seems inefficient and cumbersome, we are tuning in to a gap between how things are and how they could be. I call this a tension, because that’s often how it is experienced, but I don’t mean the word in a negative way. We might label this state a “problem” that “should” be fixed, or we might label it an “opportunity” to harness. Either way, that’s just us projecting our meaning-making on the raw experience I’m calling a tension—the perception of a specific gap between current reality and a sensed potential. (emphasis mine)
Who am I as a transformation leader? I am “a stand for the gap” – a champion for the human capacity to sense the gap between “what is” and “what could be”, and an advocate for finding the place of forward motion towards that sensed potential. I love working with people to create “better”. I love that moment when an individual gets unblocked. I love it when a team makes a breakthrough in their ability to solve complex problems. And I love it when a shift occurs in the organization that enables a greater connection with the customer, smoother flow of work, and more joy in the doing of the work. And I know that sometimes I am planting seeds whose fruition I may never see, but those seeds are an invitation into that potential.
As a transformation leader, I am a “stand for the gap”. Who are you?