In a world filled with change, it is often not the physical changes we find difficult but rather the emotional letting go of the way the world used to be and the shifting to a new identity. These psychological responses are called ‘transitions‘. They come in three stages.
The first stage is to let go and Separate from the way the world used to be. The second is to cross the the uncertainty of the Threshold phase. And the third and final stage is called ‘Consolidation’. This is where we work to bring the different parts of our original vision together and align them into a coherent whole.
For example, we all know now how Amazon, Airbnb, and Uber work but, when they started, all three were radical, untried new business models. To succeed, their founders had to inspire people to Separate from the way they previously bought books, hotel rooms, and taxis. Then they had to convince people to stick with them through the uncertainty of the Threshold growth phase. And finally, they had to Consolidate and align the different pieces of the emerging enterprise into the coherent evolving brands we all know today. Amazon and Airbnb have achieved this well. Failure to achieve this third and final stage is what has forced Travis Kalanick to resign from Uber.
Success in the third, Consolidation, stage depends on showing your stakeholders that progress is being made and on shaping what that progress means to each of them. So schedule “quick wins” into your project plan. Celebrate each one as it happens. Use each step to show that the vision is being accomplished and shape what that means for each of them (customers, employees, investors…).
Operationally, a plan is essential. Emotionally and psychologically, sharing parts of this plan will enable your stakeholders to understand how each small achievement is building towards something greater that matters to them. Sharing the plan appropriately can also help your whole team to understand their roles and the contribution they are making to building that whole.
Above all, focus on the purpose of your vision. Whether you are building a new organisation, running a project, or simply starting a new role, knowing the purpose of why you are doing so will enable you to shape the meaning of anything that happens, resolve competing priorities, and empower your entire team to respond independently to events while remaining in alignment with the overall purpose.
Once you have completed this Consolidation phase and established the new organisation, project, or role, you will want to set new goals. As you then centre and ground yourself, make sense of the situation, find the opportunities, choose the best way forward for you, and create an inspiring vision of how to achieve it, so the cycle of inner leadership begins all over again.
Adapted from Inner Leadership.