Reflective learners evolve over time through deeper and deeper integration of character and competence; you learn to do more difficult and complex things because who you are has become more complex. As your cognitive, emotional, and spiritual self matures, you are more able to:
- Balance personal conviction with interpersonal awareness
- Solicit multiple perspectives from diverse stakeholders
- Lead with presence and authenticity
- Act courageously
- Tolerate ambiguity
- Suspend judgment, gather information, and then discern best action
- Respond with agility
- Be resilient in the face of adversity
These sophisticated leadership skills and capacities are built over time, and they can be consciously developed through active learning. I help my clients cultivate their ability to do the above by developing the following skill sets:
Good judgment begins with being able to see a situation for what it is, to be able to notice and articulate subtle differences. It includes the ability to distinguish between technical and adaptive challenges, to recognize the difference between a problem to solve and a polarity to manage, or to be able to discern when conflict is productive or stymies progress.
Take Multiple Perspectives
By their nature, adaptive challenges are multi-faceted not only in their ultimate solutions, but in the very definitions of the problems themselves. Executives who use good systems-thinking skills and solicit and consider disparate perspectivesmake better decisions about what to do.
Lead Through Conversation
Skillful communication is at the heart of achieving alignment around strategy – for some executives, that is the totality of the job, all the more critical in a charged and confounding landscape. Smart leaders constantly sharpen advanced listening and communication skills.
The number one reason why executives fail is due to a lack of self-awareness. Even extraordinary adaptive leaders have buttons that get pushed, biases to overcome, and assumptions to uncover. The ability to observe your own strengths, flaws, biases, tendencies, etc. and be able to manage them productively is pure gold. As a result, feedback, assessments, and accountability for personal growth are key elements in development.
Hold an Experimental Mindset
Exercising leadership often means learning your way through, to notice what is emerging that is helpful and to participate in its creation. Executives who advance their organizations take risks and learn from them. You help others articulate hypotheses about what will advance the cause, run multiple experiments, and then pay attention to the results in order to amplify them throughout the organization, or learn from the failures.