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 all three were once 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 convince them to stick with them through the uncertainty of the Threshold growth phase. Finally, they had to Consolidate and align the different pieces of their emerging enterprises into the coherent evolving brands we all know today.
Amazon and Airbnb have achieved this well. Uber has so far failed to do so, despite its rapid growth, which is why Travis Kalanick was forced to resign.
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 and celebrate each one as it happens.
Use each step to show that the vision is being accomplished and shape what that means for each stakeholder. Customers, employees, and investors will all have different interests and different ways of interpreting events.
Have a plan and share it (appropriately) so that your stakeholders can understand that each small step is building towards something greater. Use it also to ensure that your team understands stays focused on what they are contributing to the whole.
Above all, focus on the purpose of what you are building.
Whether you are starting a new role, running a project, or building an organisation knowing the purpose of why you are doing so will enable you to resolve competing priorities and empower your team to respond independently to whatever happens while remaining in alignment with the shared overall purpose.
And then, once you have completed the Consolidation phase, the cycle of Inner Leadership will begin all over again. You will centre and ground, make sense of the new situation, find the opportunities, choose the best, and turn it into an inspiring vision. Then manage the transitions as you work to make it happen.
Are you working to bring a project to completion? What steps are you taking to keep your stakeholders informed and enthused about your progress? How do you ensure that your team remains focused on the big picture and all pulling in the same direction?
Adapted from Inner Leadership: tools for building inspiration in times of change.
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