- Leading inevitably involves trying to effect significant changes
- It is very hard to bring about significant changes in any human group without changes in individual behaviours.
- It is very hard to sustain significant changes in behaviour without significant changes in individuals’ underlying meanings that may give rise to their behaviours
- It is very hard to lead on behalf of other people’s changes in their underlying ways of making meaning without considering the possibility that we ourselves must also change
Extract from: How the way we talk can change the way we work – Robert Kegan / Lisa Laskow-Lahey
A number of years ago I participated in a Leadership programme that helped me focus on my strengths and helped me see that by focusing on my strengths I could provide more effective leadership and generally be more impactful as a leader (so the assumption goes)
However a number of years later I have learnt that holding that view has not just hindered my development and growth but in fact completely stopped my development and growth.
This has been shaped by a new insight and learning around what development and growth can and could mean to me. Significantly influenced by research on Adult Development by Cook-Greuter, Kegan, Torbert etc.
One of the main underlying theories behind this as I understand it is the Subject – Object Shift, as illustrated in the image below
The Subject – Object Shift
Moving through the levels requires the subject-object shift — or as i’ve also understood it to mean – moving from Assumptions that hold us, to Assumptions we hold.
This shift essentially allows us to see and understand more complexity and understand the world, ourselves and the people in it.
Along with this shift in my thinking and understanding, it has added value to and increased my understanding of Brene Brown’s body of research and work (Dare to Lead, Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, Gifts of Imperfection etc).
All of this has laid out a set of assumptions and logics which looks a bit like this for me now…
1) Adults continue to learn, develop and grow and can be supported to do this,
2) In order to learn, develop and grow it requires me to be vulnerable,
3) In order to be vulnerable it requires a safe and trusted space in which to be vulnerable.
Circling back to the strengths based model, let me touch on how I’ve understood that to have stopped me from developing and growing.
Only focusing on my strengths potentially ignores those areas that can unlock an internal transformation for me to work towards my fullest potential. Focusing only on my strengths keeps me anchored in and at a particular development level and will only ever allow me to increase my practical skills within that level as opposed to overcoming and encouraging developmental growth of who I am capable of being. I do expect of course to develop new skills, capacities and capabilities But i’m learning these are different to what I used to think they were. The capability to see and understand the interdependence of all things is at the heart of developmental growth.
Understanding those areas within me that need development (some might call these weaknesses) I am starting to learn that the practices of shame resilience and understanding what stops me from showing up and being vulnerable are the areas that allow me to truly develop and truly grow.
I’ve learnt that development and growth requires constant practice and discipline – there are no quick fixes to becoming a better person. Its a blend of continuing the exploration into understanding what I know and understand, how I act and live my life and what I pay attention to and focus on.
So what started as a emotional and fragile journey into shame, worthiness and fear, has been re-framed as an opportunity, in fact a personal quest or adventure to becoming a better human being, anchored in compassion and love.