Steep slopes

I recently listened to someone referencing the comfort, stretch panic* model, and was reminded of a friend who prefers to call stretch the adventure zone.  Love that.  Then I got to thinking – what is the stretch, or the adventure, that’s required, as we move into leadership?steep slopes3

Surely part of our adventure is in leaving behind some of the operational, functional and technical brilliance that got us our new job, the promotion, as we place more emphasis on behaviours that will now define us as a leader?

Testing in an assessment process may prove competence at tasking, decision-making and applying logic and good reasoning, and will more than likely identify us as the safe pair of hands, a go-to-person, someone who can manage a team and a crisis. And these skills will, of course, remain useful throughout our career – it’s always comforting for staff to know that they’ve got a leader who can occasionally roll up their sleeves and chip in, someone who wouldn’t ask you to do something they wouldn’t be able to do themselves.

But trying to practice, and holding on to, these skills on a daily basis at the expense of making room for behaviours that belong to a good leader is not what’s needed in the next level of leadership development.  A leader needs to access behaviours that will make them leaders of people:

  • empathy
  • social awareness
  • role-modelling
  • compassion

And these, I suggest, are the talents that will set us apart from others who can’t access feelings, who have little self-awareness, or who lurch from day to day by applying quick-fix, task-focused solutions with a sticking plaster that won’t last.  A very senior colleague recently told his team that they should be spending at least 50% of their time developing their staff.  In short: people matter.

  • provenance unknown – sometimes attributed to Karl Rohnke (who confirmed to me today that it isn’t his model)

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