A year ago I developed a plan to help me become a leader around the concept of process-based living, an organic approach to creating positive change. The plan was made up of equal parts vision-realization (e.g., developing a process-based leadership program, writing the book) and addressing self-limiting behaviours (e.g., not speaking up when things don’t feel right, acting impulsively when anxious, or being overly apologetic); I knew I couldn’t be successful without paying attention to both.
Supported by my intentions for growth, it was a heck of a year. While at times it felt like I was trying to navigate through a dense forest without map or compass, I made good progress in becoming a process-based leader: a person who intentionally creates positive change in themselves and their communities. Here’s a look back at my key learnings.
Becoming a Process-Based Leader: 4 Things I Learned
The first thing I learned about becoming a process-based leader was to trust my own approach. I’ve read many books on leadership and taken courses in leadership development however this time I felt it was necessary to tap into my own wisdom around creating positive change. Using an exercise I developed to help people in career transition, I came up with this creative representation of my leadership development plan for the year:
It may not read as cleanly as a five-year plan but it’s a lot more inspiring! The colours and images engage my interest on multiple levels. I hung the plan on a wall in my office where I could see it every day, its constant presence reminding and encouraging me to stay committed to my leadership intentions.
The second thing I learned is that my self-sabotaging behaviours are well-ingrained, and it’s unrealistic to expect them to change overnight. One such behaviour is my habit of praising people too much, to the point where I feel exhausted and they seem confused or annoyed about why I’m being so effusive. I’ve done it for so long that I’ve barely been aware, a coping strategy I adopted primarily to keep attention on the other person.
Nonetheless, I sensed that my excessive people-praising was interfering with my personal and professional relationships; reducing instead of enhancing mutual trust in each other. It would take some practise before I could regularly catch myself in the act (and either button my lip or choose another path in the conversation). I realized that working on changing these behaviours would also require me to develop more patience, an important leadership quality and unexpected add-on to my skillset.
The third thing I learned is that I have more leadership skills than I previously thought. Having been self-employed for several years now, I haven’t had as much occasion to practise leadership in a group setting. That doesn’t mean I don’t know how and in fact, my time on the organizational sidelines has allowed me to develop a stronger sense of what I think it means to show up as a leader in a situation and have leadership presence. When it came time to form my own networking group (West End Business Growers) and also join the Executive Committee of my Toastmasters club, my leadership felt natural and progressive: I am less controlling than I have been in the past and more interested in trusting and supporting my fellow members’ growth.
(Note: #WestEndBusinessGrowers is a networking group where an intentionally small number of participants are hosted at each meeting. Invited participants partake in a meaningful agenda and a shared mission to grow referral business by building good relationships over time – more details here.)
Finally, whenever you set an intention to learn something new, real-life opportunities show up to help you practise. The trick is to spot the opportunity and do what you need in order to say “yes”. My Toastmasters club was nearing its year-end and I knew the President’s role would become available. “Could I take it on?” I wondered with excitement and nervousness. Feeling that I needed a little more confidence before throwing my hat in the ring, I reached out to my outgoing President for insight, along with a couple of hopeful Presidents for other clubs. My outgoing President was encouraging and my colleagues and I agreed to support each other in the upcoming year, so on the day of the elections I felt comfortable accepting my nomination for the President’s role. It’s only been a couple of months since, yet I’m already learning about being the best leader I can for my club and I’m up for the challenge.
One of the last elements of my leadership development plan was to blog about the plan itself. We’re all trying to get a leg up in this life and it only makes sense to share what’s working for each of us – such that some or all of our own success can be enjoyed by others (as long as they’re willing to put in the effort).
My work on becoming a process-based leader is far from over. I have years of learning and growth ahead and plenty of positive change to create in myself and my communities. I can’t imagine anything better and I can’t wait to keep going (and as I said, I’m working on becoming more patient).
Are you an aspiring leader who wants to create positive change in yourself and your communities?
Process-Based Living is currently piloting a 10-session coaching program to help aspiring leaders create positive change in themselves and their communities. Monthly coaching sessions start in September 2016 and run until June of next year. You’ll begin the program by creating a leadership development plan similar to the one I’ve described above (instructions will be provided and we’ll debrief your plan together). We’ll work with each aspect of your plan to help you create the changes you’re looking for and start taking meaningful action in your career and home life.
If you are interested in learning more, please contact me or sign up for the Process-Based Living newsletter (at the bottom of my Home page) to keep track of related offerings. I look forward to hearing from you.