Today’s business leaders must inspire change, welcome change, foster change, and sustain change.
Current events are almost too much to process. Our health, well-being, and safety have felt uncertain. Leaders in every sector must rise to meet this moment, both for ourselves and those we lead. Our actions, individually and as a group, can make a difference to build toward justice and equality for all. As leaders we must summon our superpowers to create change in our sphere of influence.
How do we take the first step toward inspiring, welcoming, fostering, and sustaining change? As a first step forward, leaders must be willing to change themselves. Success relies on practicing personal mastery—not as if it were a one-hour commitment to take a Pilates class or to meditate occasionally but as a choice to evolve every day toward higher levels of ability and effectiveness.
Change makers have something in common: high levels of personal mastery. They continuously work to expand and leverage their effectiveness when it comes to commitment, curiosity, and courage.
COMMITMENT: HOW TO GROW IT
A leader’s commitments shape his or her organization’s identity, define its strengths and weaknesses, establish its opportunities and limitations, and set its direction. Commitments enable as well as constrain and provide continuity over time.
Leaders pave the way for people to become more emotionally committed to the mission at hand. How do we cultivate both intellectual and emotional engagement within ourselves and others? Personal mastery enables us to make conscious choices to evolve and embrace change. We become freer to respond with clarity, commitment, and energy, regardless of the circumstances around us. Here are two actions you can take to strengthen commitment:
- BE INTENTIONAL. Be clear about your intention to create change, and make sure your daily actions reflect your commitment to those goals. Most of us are pretty clear on what we don’t want. Can you be as clear about what you do want?
- HONOR YOUR VALUES. Make sure the role you occupy and the mission you have are aligned with your values, and if they’re not, start drafting a game plan for how to change that. And don’t forget, honoring your values helps build trust in others.
CURIOSITY: HOW TO CULTIVATE IT
Curiosity and open-mindedness are critical traits for transformational leaders to create change. They help leaders expand their perspective, even in challenging times. Curiosity is about seeking fresh ideas and approaches in order to keep pace with change. Do you need to cultivate more curiosity in your life to expand your world? Here are two key actions you can take to develop a more curious attitude and broaden your horizons:
- SEEK EDUCATION. Learning doesn’t have to take place in a formal training program. The idea is to build your knowledge base and reignite your innate desire to explore. Find resources that offer insight into the views of others.
- ASK QUESTIONS. You don’t have all the answers. No one does. Acknowledge that, and start asking questions of your employees, other managers, your friends, maybe even of someone you follow on social media.
COURAGE: HOW TO EXPAND YOURS
In The Wizard of Oz, the cowardly lion had courage all along. In the end, he unleashed it. Courageous leaders take risks and make decisions with the intention of launching change. Their boldness inspires their teams, energizes customers, and positions their organizations for transformational success.
What does courage look like? It’s about taking a stand, making a move, and pushing through fear. Courage isn’t absence of fear; it’s refusing to let fear hold you back. As Ben Dean writes: “If any virtues are to be cultivated within a society, one might reasonably argue that courage should be foremost among them, for courage may be necessary to maintaining and exercising the other virtues.” Humans aren’t born courageous. It’s a trait we choose and then cultivate. If you want to practice more courage, try these ideas:
- STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE. We have to leave old habits behind and be open to trying something new. This also helps us keep our mental powers nimble. You can easily try stepping out of your comfort zone today.
- WELCOME CHANGE. It’s human nature to fear change. And fear isn’t necessarily a bad thing—it can help us exercise due caution in challenging circumstances. But even if you feel apprehensive about change, work on welcoming it for the lessons and innovations it often provides. And don’t stop at getting comfortable with change; start fostering it, too! Once you start seeing change as an opportunity for growth, your capacity to embrace it (and roll with it) will grow.
The process of personal mastery forces us to do what most people have a very hard time doing—assessing ourselves as more than the sum of a list of faults. As our focus broadens, so too does the accuracy of our self-assessment. In addition to our talents and strengths, we begin to identify opportunities for growth. But in the context of personal mastery, some weaknesses turn out to be nothing more than strengths that have not been fully developed. The question is not how to get rid of them, but how to harness their full power. The common excuse for avoiding change—I can’t do it!—is replaced by something more honest and more possible. Transformation becomes the imperative.