John Kotter’s classic, Leading Change, makes a powerful distinction between management and leadership. Kotter says that management is focused on the effective maintenance of the status quo, i.e. they keep things going. In contrast, leadership is about a vision for the future; it is about moving things in a new direction.
Every organization needs both types: competent managers and effective leaders. Most human resource programs focus on management programs. Many confuse leadership development with management programs.
How are we building leader-ful organizations?
How are we ensuring that we can sustain organizations and keep them adaptive enough to a rapidly changing world?
Yesterday, I was chatting over email with my cousin, Donna, about her goal-setting. In doing so, I was able to see for myself something with which I have been struggling as of late. I’ve been trying to figure out why it is that, no matter what I do, I just don’t know how to take acknowledgment: There’s always more that can be done; therefore, the results are never good enough. I realized that rising to meet my parents’ ever-increasing expectations has largely shaped my attitude about success. And because I can’t meet those expectations ever, then I’m almost destined to be a failure, which must mean that there’s something wrong with me. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with me. Yet, this story continues to replay, like a broken record. And every time I feel like I’ve failed, I only dig deeper into that broken record.
The mis-belief in my being a failure may not ever really go away. What I can do is create a new way of being that is a healthier, nourishing alternative to this story. Either way, the story of my being a failure or inadequate and the story of being successful and fulfilled are equally valid stories. The difference is: To which story am I more committed? In which story am I more invested in living?
Yesterday, I had a great conversation about the ways in which the conversations we have with other people reinforce the ways in which we look at ourselves. One of the things that came up for me were the ways in which I have reined in my goals and ambitions in the name of not “selling out.”
How many of us have our dreams squelched … or worse, engage in self-sabotage … for fear that being “too successful” will mean not being as close to our loved ones as we used to be? And yet, are our loved ones responsible for our happiness? Do they pay our bills? Do they nourish our souls? Do they provide satisfaction and fulfillment in our careers?
We’re so afraid of flying solo that we don’t even bother to spread our wings at all. We should trust that if we take flight, we’ll be able to look over our shoulders and discover those who are willing to soar with us.
There’s nothing like the feeling of falling short of your own standards. Granted, I have incredibly high standards for myself. But when you find that you make a mistake, and that you could’ve avoided it, you go to that place where you begin to question everything…. At least, that’s what I do.
In sharing a breakdown today with my boss, she pointed out that the perfectionism in me has me equate success with getting it right all the time. And in that moment, I thought back to an earlier conversation with another coworker who was ruminating over a quote that said something like, “Success is about being able to go from failure to failure.” Indeed…