There are pivotal times in our lives that affect the course and direction we are heading. Often these moments spring themselves upon us when we least expect them and other times we create them ourselves.
The first time Mark Thienes drew the three circles representing Gapology was that transitional moment for me.
At that time in my life I was what I now call an “Invisible Leader.” I wasn’t a bottom, “C” level performer, but I wasn’t an “A” player either. I was in the middle of the pack, just flying below the radar. I was content not having any eyes focused on me because I felt safe in that role. It was fine with me not to be recognized, because I was also not being reprimanded either. But, I was making leadership much more difficult and I was struggling much more than I had to.
What I learned that day from Mark was the simplicity that Gapology offered. It made leadership easier, less stressful, and more impactful for my team. I saw the world differently and, in turn, the world saw me differently because my leadership dramatically changed. Although the execution of Gapology was a challenge, my competence improved, my confidence improved, my commitment improved and as a result my results improved. I learned that leadership is an art, but more importantly, that there is a science to it. There are specific steps to take to create a consistent winning leadership style and I learned those steps and began using them that day.
Gapology and other leadership methods do that for people and what we have discovered since the early days of Gapology is that Winning Leaders all experience these transitional moments where they move from being an invisible performer (or underperformer) to a winning one.
Often the transition happens for leaders as a result of new found knowledge or skills taught by their own supervisor or peers. Other times they go through some sort of outside coaching or learning program. And other times the light switch gets flipped by experiencing and overcoming a challenging situation that is new to them.
Rarely does it get flipped by leading the normal day-to-day life. Just leading each day without any challenges or new information will not create these paradigm shifts. It takes dramatic moments to create dramatic changes in the way we see the world. We typically grow up in an environment of safety and we create a comfortable, simple world around us. It is easier to live a life that is unchallenged and smooth than it is to confront the realities of our own views and behaviors. The smooth path is much simpler to navigate but it provides little opportunity for internal growth.
Being adventurous by heading down the “road less traveled” will certainly be challenging. We will discover difficult bumps and pot-holes along the way. But the new journey will also be filled with new learnings that will allow us to grow mentally and emotionally. We will learn how to navigate through the obstacles and as a result we will become stronger, more effective leaders along the way.
We can’t be afraid to seek out the challenges. We mustn’t crumble at the thought of being vulnerable to our learning. We cannot shy away from facing our own shortcomings and the performance gaps that we create as a result. This is how leaders grow. This is how Winning Leaders are created. It’s not accidental. It’s not chance. It’s intentional. It’s a choice.
Winning Leaders identify new and exciting ways to challenge their own paradigm. They read books, attend seminars, go to training workshops, and reach out to mentors and peers. They ask questions. They are curious about things. They don’t accept things as they are. They have a strong internal drive to grow and learn.
Transitional moments happen. Often times they are unforeseen, accidental moments. Most often however, they are the result of a leader deciding to choose a path of growth and learning.
As leaders in a Teaching Organization we have a responsibility to create these transitional moments for our teams, and we have an even greater responsibility to create them for ourselves.