What’s Strengthening You?

I work with a few leaders who harbour the belief because their direct reports are adults they should know better. They should do better and essentially go off and do what they signed up for-after all, aren’t they adults?! It is this perspective that do these leaders in. What do I mean? They carry certain perspective developed over the years into each New Year.

Each day is spent in the equivalent of their own wind-less bubbles: nursing these negative and limiting perspectives. They expend valuable energy looking for what’s not working.

Expecting the worst from their direct reports. Comparing themselves to their direct reports: if I can do it why can’t they?? After a while they will and do collapse under the weight of these self-created and self-perpetuated limited thinking.

I read an article about a group of scientists experimenting on how to grow trees faster. The scientists created what is called a windless bubble biosphere 2.  The idea is to remove external challenges to the trees such as wind, with the intention the trees would grow faster than those left to the ravages of the elements.

As I read this information, I got to thinking about the leaders and their direct reports with whom I work. Many will face challenges. Many will find a way over, under, around or through them. Sadly, too many of them will topple over to the weight of these challenges.  What is seen  by some as  temporary blocks, reasons to reflect and ensure they are on purpose; for many will cause them to fall over.

The scientists were excited as they grew their trees in the windless bubble. They noticed the trees grew several times faster than those exposed to the elements-they were ecstatic!  Until the trees just suddenly topple over-they collapsed under their own weight.  This is what I noticed happens to many leaders they collapse under the weight or burden of their responsibilities: they same battle they signed up for when first hired!

Recently, a client shared with me his challenge with procrastination.  Of course, it wasn’t his fault it was the environment that he was in. He believed the opposition he receives from his reporting manager and colleagues was the reason for him not taking action. 

He was convinced if only his work colleagues could get out of his way he would stop procrastinating.  After sharing the story of the windless-bubble and its impact on the trees, he quickly realized that opposition is just the requisite challenge necessary for him to grow strong roots to reach the heights he so desired.

Another client shared that he was at his wit’s end because his direct reports were just not following through with their responsibilities. He added quickly that he told them what to do and expects them to do it.  What I had to pull out of him is the fact he doesn’t meet with his direct reports on any regular basis. He leaves them in their own wind-less tunnels-no challenge or development. So they too and he topple over from their weight.

That was the conclusion reached by the scientists. They realized the important role the wind and its ravages played in supporting the trees to grow strong roots before achieving their maximum heights.  We are all trees. Inherently designed to interact with each other-the elements- for the purpose of helping each other grow strong roots, thick skins and a spine that is flexible so that we bend without breaking.

Leaders, as you move into this New Year, check any limiting perspectives you might have carried over from the previous year. View each challenge that comes your way as wind power you can generate so many incredible results with wind power-start harvesting your power.

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