We often give advice to leaders, “Be bold!”
Here are the typical reasons for being bold that I hear:
You’ll get noticed
You’ll move faster forward (failing and succeeding both)
You’ll get outside the box
All good reasons!
Most of us move forward in our lives in a rather jerky fashion. We make a change (intentional or otherwise) and then spend a lot of time dealing with what just happened.
If you’re going to lead something, however, jerkiness will backfire on you – personally and with those who choose to follow you (and yes, it’s always a choice in the end.) Jerkiness leads to exhaustion.
Yes, there is an ebb and flow that we need to create when we spawn new initiatives and then absorb the change and keep moving. When being bold is your habit; you are living on the edge of what is new and what is old; what you understand and what you don’t; what works and what-you-don’t know-if-it-works yet.
To be bold and live on the edge of your experience, you need to learn to master discomfort and fear. You must learn to respect these warning bells without letting them stop you. You need to learn how they sound when they’re right to hold you back and when they’re baseless. We humans are never perfect interpreters of those clanging bells, either personally or organizationally, but as leaders we must be better than most at learning when to heed their guidance. And when not to.
Great leaders are expansive. Their leadership is a result, not necessarily of what they’ve experienced, but of what they learned from what they experienced. Are you learning everyday? Are you taking risks right on the edge of your comfort zone and watching what happens with a critical eye, determined to do it better next time? Are you constantly creating “next time” opportunities? Are you interpreting your experience so that others around you can learn as you learn?
If so, you might just be leading. Keep it up!
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