In my experience the number of people who enthusiastically and fearlessly take theory and translate it into action is small. I am convinced that this is the case when it comes to legitimate leadership. I am also convinced that this doesn’t have to be so.
“Application” is not some mysterious process out of the reach of all but the most forward-thinking and courageous leaders. It simply requires commitment, perseverance, and the acceptance that trial-and-error is a legitimate (and often very necessary) part of our growth.
In an intervention, while Legitimate Leadership typically follows the 2-day Introduction to The Legitimate Leadership Model with a series of Application Modules aimed specifically at the particular problem, I always make the point that leaders don’t have to wait for an Application Module before they start to change their own intent and behaviour. It all starts with intent – a change in heart.
From there it simply requires taking what now sits in your head, and putting it into your hands: changing your behaviour so that people experience you differently.
It won’t (and can’t) happen overnight. People will be sceptical, especially if your new behaviour is radically different from what they’re used to, but they’ll get used to the new you. With a little luck they’ll even help you get there.
I have been meaning to put pen to paper on this issue for a while now. The two catalysts which resulted in the deed were 1) an informal conversation that I had with a participant two weeks after one of our 2-day introductory programmes, and 2) an email that I received from another individual who attended a similar 2-day introductory programme.
I obviously can’t share the informal conversation verbatim of the first person, but I can say that the individual involved simply went out and tried something new.
The email of the second person (written after the introductory programme but before any Application Module) is below. Hopefully it will give others the encouragement they need to take a chance and do something different and new when they get back to the office.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the course. I learnt so much about myself and my leadership style. During the workshop, a big eye-opener for me was that I need to take a step back and lead the managers reporting to me. I am a very hands-on person, so I am always on the floor and staff tend to talk to me about challenges they may have. What I was doing before, is I would jump in and try to solve their challenges. This potentially would have and was becoming a big problem, as more and more staff were coming to me directly and not to their managers.
“This is actually a behavior I have had for many years as a manager. I would always wonder why I spent so much time solving everyone else’s issues and never getting to the work I should be doing. Silly for me to never realize that what I was doing was disempowering the other managers …
“I have started one-on-one meetings with the managers reporting directly to me. During these sessions we are discussing what exactly I expect from them and what they expect from me. This is proving to be a good idea, as what I assumed – that they knew I wanted from them – they didn’t. Once I have laid a solid foundation with them, they in turn need to do the same with their direct reports, etc … We are a new management team, and the timing of the survey and course are perfect. I have no doubt that we are going to gain a lot from it.”