By Adam Schorr
Consider a married couple. He’s spent the last 20 years working on himself. Learning, exploring, discovering. Changing. So has she. Each has been on a journey of enlightenment to become a better person. And they are, in fact, both of them, wonderful people. But they’ve each been on their own journey, and now, while each is one with the universe, they’re not in the same universe. They have nothing left in common. He doesn’t fit in her world. And she doesn’t fit in his.
This scenario came to mind recently during a conversation with a financial services executive I advise. He is interested in becoming a more creative leader. And it occurred to me that there are really two dimensions to this challenge. Or any leadership challenge.
There’s the internal work of improving yourself. But in parallel, there must also be the work of engaging your team. When you work on yourself but not on your team, two unintended consequences can unfold.
One is that you may get frustrated because you’ve improved your capabilities and they’re no longer able to play at your level. You end up constantly feeling that the quality of their work is inadequate.
The other consequence is that the team may reject you as a leader in the way that a body can reject a transplant. It was working well for them before. You went and changed without asking them or bringing them along.
Every journey of change might mean you outgrow those around you. To lessen the risk, remember that leadership is not a solo act. It’s something you can only do in concert with those you lead. When you seek to grow and become a better leader, what you’re really doing is changing the dynamic on your team. So do it together. As you learn and develop, remember to bring your team along on the journey. Set context for them so they know why this change will be good, and coach them so they can benefit from what you learn and discover along the way.
As a leader, you can do three simple things to bring others along as you navigate your self-improvement journey, laying the groundwork for a healthy, productive team dynamic.
Adam is the founder of Rule No. 1, a consultancy dedicated to helping companies live their unique purpose — in their culture and in the market. He is also a Leadfully Advisor and a principal at SYPartners.
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