The benefits of developing these seven sets of inner leadership competencies come in five stages.
The first is that by applying just one or two tools we get to solve the immediate problems we face. We learn to remain calm in a wider range of circumstances, we find more ways out of difficult situations, we define our objectives in a more inspiring way, and so on.
The second is that when we apply all the tools together, step by step, we become more able to lead ourselves out of any situation. We become more inspirational leaders of ourselves and other people.
The third level of benefit, as we repeat the process and become better at it, is what Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls ‘antifragility’. Things and people that break under stress, we call ‘fragile’. Things and people that survive stress we call ‘resilient’, ‘strong’, or ‘robust’. And things and people that actually become stronger when placed under stress, Taleb calls ‘antifragile’.
By becoming more skilled with the tools of Inner Leadership we learn how to use change to become clearer on what matters most to us and more able to achieve it. Antifragile people like this can then create antifragile organisations… And an antifragile organisation that uses change to become stronger has competitive advantage. It becomes truly sustainable.
These are the first three levels of benefit: fixing the problems we face, making us better leaders, becoming antifragile. And there are still two more to come.
Einstein told us that we cannot solve a problem with the same level of thinking that created it. Many of the biggest problems we face in the world today are the direct result of our past models of leadership: if, in the past, we’d had different ideas about what it means to be a leader we would have taken different decisions and we would not now be facing many of the problems that we are.
By developing a new style of leadership that addresses these problems we can expect that the problems themselves will start to disappear. Instead of a style of leadership that creates volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA) we will build an approach that creates a dynamic, generative, stable, and abundant world. This is the fourth level of benefit.
Finally, the fifth level of benefit is joy. This is something we don’t often talk about in business, but perhaps we should. Because your joy shows you where your purpose lies, and when you are working on something in line with your purpose you feel joy. What Inner Leadership shows us is that purpose is the key to achieving the antifragility and competitive advantage I just talked about. It is also part of what we desire most as human beings.
By living in line with our purpose we experience joy. This is the fifth and final level of benefit we can expect from reading and applying the tools in this book.
Adapted from The Churning, Inner Leadership, published October 2016.