“Things are good now,” Dan told Michele. “My worst fears about the new org structure haven’t materialized. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite. In these six weeks Catherine has shown herself to be a good partner and a positive force in keeping us organized, so I’m able to focus on strategy, quality, and technical execution. My team has learned to play nicely with hers, and I spend more time at the VP level making sure that their perceptions of our progress match reality.”
“How’s that going?” asked Michele.
“For the most part it’s good, except, of course, for Bob. He publicly complains that we’re not giving him the functionality he needs. If he had his way, the system would automatically order pizza after it compared all the menus and prices in fifty states.”
“When’s the last time you talked to him?” she said.
“That’s a problem. I keep making appointments with him and he blows me off at the last minute. The people he assigned to the project are B players at best, and they do the same thing with Carla. When she does meet with them, they come armed with a new list of desired features. She’s having a tough time making any progress at all, and if Carla can’t make headway, no one can.”
“What about Catherine?” she said. “What does she have to say?”
“She’s trying to stay neutral, but I can tell she’s bothered by it. Their feature creep jeopardizes our milestones,” he said.
“So, what do you make of all this?”
“I don’t know. When the system goes live, every transaction and process in the company will be visible. Maybe there are some things Bob doesn’t want to see the light of day. Time will tell.”
“How’s your leadership stacking up against your chart of old and new behaviors?” asked Michele.
“I’ve almost completely dropped my old style, because I’ve seen how the new ways always produce better results. But the real shift is how I respond when I’m frustrated. For the most part, I can dissolve tension before it takes me down the path to an old behavior. Then the new behavior seems like a viable choice. I feel calm underneath – happy, actually, more of the time. I’m excited about delegating and watching people grow by taking on more and learning as a result. My peers and direct reports have noticed the change and tell me they appreciate it.
“Things are different at home, too. I make time for my family, and I’m enjoying them a lot more, I’m getting more sleep. I’m losing weight. My doctor is happy with me. My wife loves me. I’m only working fifty-five to sixty hour weeks. I’m cured.”
“Congratulations. You’re really making progress. All your hard work is paying off,” she said.
“Yeah, in six months we’ve done a lot,” he said. “So, if we continued, where could we take this?”
“It depends on your goals. If you want to move through further stages of development, deeper into post-heroic territory, there’s a lot we could do.”
“For instance, a hallmark of high stage leaders is their ability to easily imagine themselves in the shoes of their key players and stakeholders. Because their time horizon expands as well, they understand and care about the ripple effects of their decisions – how they affect individuals, communities, society, and the planet for generations to come. As you grow in positional and organizational power, you gain the leverage and the desire to make a difference. You confront bigger challenges that demand greater humility and clarity. When your leadership stops being about you, you become exponentially more effective. Dan, you’ve taken the first step on that path. And if you choose to, you can continue.”
“Why stop now? I mean, I’ve got the humility thing nailed. What’s next?”
“Seriously, I’d like to keep going. Any thoughts about what my next challenge might be and what it might demand from me?” he said.
“I don’t know, but I believe it will find you. At least that’s what Grandfather says. Just as trouble never lasts forever, neither do periods of calm. The trick is to enjoy them both. Then neither success nor failure can distract you.”
“Distract me from what?” he said.
“Unattached and full appreciation of life. From that place, you choose the right timing of useful actions as a leader, a father, and a husband. There’s no shortage of joy to be had in living and leading wisely, without self-importance.”
“I’ll get right on it,” he said.
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Dragons at Work
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