Adapting to a new reality is hard work. It involves loss and risking incompetence and disorientation and discomfort. People need support to do that.
Those words come from one of the principals of Cambridge Leadership Associates, Marty Linsky, and he should know. He’s an expert in Adaptive Leadership.
During the economic crisis of 2009, Marty noticed that many leaders in failing companies were just trying to survive. Trying to bail themselves out, they frantically threw things overboard. They cut overhead. They fired employees. They cancelled travel. In some cases the things they threw out were the very things they needed to survive.
I’ve noticed the same trend among individual leaders and executives. Frantically trying to do (or keep) their jobs in a tough time, they neglected the support systems that could help them succeed.
Marty was talking with a senior administrator in a large foundation one day. The administrator reported, “The first thing that was cut was professional development for the senior people in the foundation.” In his view, it was “crazy.”
This is the time they really need coaching. Those folks need a structured opportunity to step back from what they’re doing and adjust their skills and adapt their orientation. They need the learning and the strategy. But when people are looking at where to save money, that kind of coaching feels like a frivolous expense.
Sometimes in our haste to manage change, we change the wrong things. We throw the oars out of the lifeboat. That doesn’t lighten the load, it makes you sink.
What do you need to be your best? What keeps you strong? What helps you think? What are the elements of your life that buoy you up?
No matter how busy you are, no matter how crazy life gets, hold onto those oars. That way even if it’s hard you can keep rowing in the direction you want to go.