Want to learn, grow and change? Look in the mirror!

Here’s an excerpt from a McKinsey Quarterly article titled: “Why leadership development programs fail.”

“Becoming a more effective leader often requires changing behavior. But although most companies recognize that this also means adjusting underlying mind-sets, too often these organizations are reluctant to address the root causes of why leaders act the way they do. Doing so can be uncomfortable for participants, program trainers, mentors and bosses, but if there isn’t a significant degree of discomfort, the chances are that the behavior won’t change.”

That’s right.
1. Change is usually uncomfortable.
2. All change starts with YOU––the leader. This means taking a good look in the mirror.
3. Looking in that mirror might be the most uncomfortable thing you’ll ever do. 

I’m not just talking about correcting a bad behavior either. It’s uncomfortable to change the status quo, especially when you think it’s working––or when you don’t realize that it isn’t.

As a leader you’re an agent for transformation. It’s your responsibility to take individuals and transform their efforts into a collaborative force for success. The most effective way to transform others is to lead by example- to model the behavior and level of performance you expect, and hope inspire in others.

Embrace that mirror and become comfortable with being uncomfortableYou can’t change without discomfort- not yourself and certainly not others. It takes courage. 

A big part of the problem is our natural aversion to pain and discomfort. This is a hard-wired survival mechanism and it works great when we touch a hot stove or eat something that makes us sick. The bad news is this aversion to discomfort can also prevent you from straying from your cave to hunt for food when it’s cold outside––and it can keep you from growing as a person and as a leader.

The status quo sucks!

Seriously- you didn’t get where you are by clinging to the past––not if you’re a genuine leader. If you want truly inspire and lead others, you’ve got to keep learning, growing and moving forward. You’ve got to embrace the continual process of self-improvement.

“Perfection is not a destination- it’s a never-ending process!”

In The Sensei Leader I wrote:

“When you truly lead by example, you are always engaged in the natural cycle of transformation. This cycle is as critical to an organization as it is to an individual. The leader’s role is to engage others in that process.”

You know in your heart as well as your mind that your organization’s success depends on continual growth, development and innovation. You need and expect your people to learn, grow and develop. You expect them to change, adapt to change and embrace change.

You’ve got to start with you!

McKinsey continues…

“Identifying some of the deepest, ‘below the surface’ thoughts, feelings, assumptions and beliefs is usually a precondition of behavioral change- one too often shirked in development programs.”

Not in mine! We hold up the mirror and expect you to take a good look.

The purpose of my workshops is to identify the human qualities and interpersonal strategies that help you become a more effective leader and finding out exactly where you need to build some muscles. You’ve got to be willing to take a good look in the mirror and you’ve got to be willing to embrace the discomfort of training to improve.

One more thought from the McKinsey article:

“Just as a coach would view an athlete’s muscle pain as a proper response to training, leaders who are stretching themselves should also feel some discomfort as they struggle to reach new levels of leadership performance.”

Effective training is sometimes painful and even frustrating. When it gets frustrating, lean on this bit of wisdom we share in the dojo:

“Frustration is the well from which all wisdom springs.”

And when it gets painful, take a little dose of Hemingway:

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.”

We call those people…


Jim Bouchard

Jim Bouchard

Jim Bouchard is an internationally recognized speaker, Leadership Activist, and founder of The SENSEI LEADER Movement™. He’s the author of 8 leadership books, and hosts Walking The Walk, a ... Web: www.armstrongspeakers.com Details