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 way of being. These psychological responses are called ‘transitions‘ and they come in three stages.
The first stage is about letting go or Separating from the way the world used to be. The second is to step across 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 all three were once radical, untried new business models. To succeed, all three founders had to inspire people to Separate from the way they previously bought books, hotel rooms, and taxis; then convince them to stick with them through the uncertainty of the Threshold growth phase. And finally, like a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle, they had to Consolidate and align all the different pieces of their emerging enterprises into the coherent evolving brands we know today.
Amazon and Airbnb have achieved this well. Uber has so far failed to do so, despite its rapid growth. This is why Travis Kalanick was forced to resign. Consolidation matters.
Achieving Successful Consolidation
Success in this third, Consolidation, phase is about showing your stakeholders that progress is being made and shaping what that progress means to them. So schedule frequent ‘wins’ into your project plan and celebrate them as they happen.
Use each win to show your stakeholders that the vision is being accomplished, and shape what it means for each of them. (Customers, employees, and investors will all have different priorities.)
Have a plan and share it (appropriately) so that your stakeholders understand how each small step is building towards something greater. Use the plan to ensure your team remains focused on not only doing their job but on contributing to the greater whole.
Above all, focus on the purpose of what you are building. Whether you are starting a new role, running a new project, or building a new organisation, knowing the purpose of why you are doing it will enable you to resolve competing priorities and enable your team to respond independently to whatever happens.
Then, when you have completed the Consolidation, the cycle of Inner Leadership will start all over again: you will centre and ground, make sense of the new situation, find the new opportunities, choose the best, and turn it into an inspiring vision, then manage the transitions as you work to make that new vision a reality.
Are you working to bring something to completion? Do you use purpose to ensure your team all pull in the same direction? Do you give regular, tailored updates to key stakeholders, so they understand how you are building a vision that matters to them and remain enthusiastic about your progress?
Adapted from Inner Leadership: tools for building inspiration in times of change.
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