The leadership pivot
When things have to change
Ever had that moment when you realise your words lack meaning and clarity? Diana Osagie makes the case of the leadership pivot as you adapt.
Picture the scene…
Around the table sits nearly a million pounds in salaries. Everyone is sharply dressed and has expensive technology in the palms of their hands.
This is the leadership team.
Revered by some
Feared by others
Between them we have scores of degrees and professional qualifications, every colleague is eligible to sit at this table and they do so with confidence.
But there is an undercurrent today. These leaders shift slightly in their chairs, some are on their 3rd coffee, they write, cross it out and then write again. They tentatively ask questions but the undercurrent grows. The undercurrent has a name – uncertainty.
The CEO / head teacher / top leader is – for now at least – oblivious to the situation, still talking, gesticulating, showing slides of this utopia just discovered. The top leader is excited for the future, has researched this new path and it is a matter of time (in their minds) before success comes knocking at the door. They speak with assurance, using words from the new course they attended or the book they have just read. They are leading.
Finally someone around the table says what everyone has been thinking for the past 45 minutes
“ I am not clear on what you mean, I am not clear on the rationale and the purpose, can you explain not what we are to do, but why?”
The room is quiet as the leader stops. Then someone else says, “Actually, I’m unclear as well”. That’s it.
Floodgates open and everyone’s uncertainty pours out and lands at the head leader feet. Beads of sweat form gently on the head leaders’ brow, they look at all the slides and handouts, and nothing is coming to the rescue. The undercurrent of uncertainty threatens to derail everything and a feeling of slight panic begins to arise in their stomach. The meeting is due to end in 5 mins, nothing is understood or agreed. The team are staring, waiting, silently judging. Now what?
The leadership pivot?
You recognise it as a moment when things must shift. You need to pivot. Your mindset moves, your approach experiences a change. Publicly, privately the leadership pivot needs to happen and embracing it will lessen the pain and increase the joy!
Choose the place of your pivot; choose the speed. Your context will give clues as to what is needed and how fast, but it is your choice. Are your colleagues waiting for you to pivot emotionally? They know you like them; some feel as though you tolerate them. None feel loved by you and it is in the midst of love that humans thrive (even humans with the title ‘work colleague’).
Perhaps you need to pivot in your physical leadership? You advocate an open-door policy, but you are never there. You say ‘come and talk to me anytime’ but colleagues can scarcely get your attention for 15 minutes before the next agenda in your schedule presents. They can see you, they hear you, but they cannot truly engage with you. ‘Will o’ the wisp leadership’. You are there, then you are gone, colleagues cannot grasp you.
You are good at your role, very good. Your CV shows you are qualified to sit at the leadership table. Competency is not the issue. Confidence is.
You were appointed on merit. Your experience gave you foundation, so why are your palms sweaty when ‘that colleague’ sends you an email? Why are you checking, rechecking and still hesitant before you make the leadership decision? My friend, you do know that confidence is not a feeling?
When you reach this point, something, or someone has to change. You.
FEATURE IMAGE by: geralt from Pixabay