As a Leader, What Are You Choosing?

Susan S Freeman Blog

ChoosingThis week’s Step Up Leader Tips looks at a common leadership problem I see in many client organizations: choosing leadership that becomes contracted and reactive, leading to poor or no decision-making and lackluster results.

Consider my client Jon.  He came to our call today concerned about his business.  One of his big clients wasn’t moving forward with work in a timely fashion, yet Jon’s company had overhead lined up and ready to go.  Because the client kept delaying a decision to “go,” Jon’s company had to begin reducing overhead.  If this continues, Jon’s company will deteriorate– the talent begins to leave on their own, and when the work does come in the door, the company can’t effectively deliver due to lack of trained employees.

The question is “what is possible now?” 

If we accept that we cannot change what goes on within the client organization, what we can change is what we do.  I asked Jon to get curious and open about what was possible.  We began to shift the conversation into creative problem-solving.  Jon went from feeling like a victim of his client’s choices to becoming the creator of a new future.

Moods and emotions play a big role in the actions we are capable of taking.  If our response to external stimuli puts us in a mood of resentment, then it’s not possible for us to become receptive to something different.  We are shut down and “done.”

Creating a different future is dependent upon doing the inner work of leadership first.  We do this by asking:

  • What mood am I in?
  • What emotions do I experience when I think about this situation?
  • How do I feel in my body as a result of this situation?

Actions we take reflect our mood, emotions and body.  Pay attention to what you are experiencing when you have difficulty with taking an action.  Something is getting in the way—mood, emotions, body—usually all three.    Notice what is happening right now.   Then make a conscious decision to shift into a more empowered approach.

During our call, Jon shifted from resentment to acceptance, from contracted to expanded, from certainty to possibility. Instead of being frustrated about the slow movement with the client on a big project, I asked him what he could do to peel of a small slice—to get a quick “win” for the client and for his team.

He decided to have a brainstorming call with his team to ask them about small possible areas for a success with the client.  He was excited about this as it would help energize them and show them positive movement in the face of difficulties.

I had a teacher who told me “you’re always either being enrolled or enrolling others.”  What this means is that we have a choice whether to enroll in other’s narratives of how things are, or we can enroll them in our vision of what’s possible.

That’s a choice worth pondering.

I invite you to post your comments here.  For more information on your leadership effectiveness, take our free quiz!

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