“Each of us is an artist of our days. ” (John O’Donahue)
In this VUCA world, we need an anecdote to high alert. The world is not going to slow down, and the demands that leaders face in complex, uncertain, volatile and often ambiguous times equate to leaders grappling even more with finding the space to lead. The opportunity and challenge in a VUCA environment is to cultivate a calm center from which to lead generatively and creatively.
It’s impossible to navigate uncertainty and complexity while on cruise control. Yet scientists estimate that 45% of our everyday behaviors are driven by reactions below the surface of conscious awareness. We are wired to rely and fall back into well-worn patterns and habits rigged to conserve energy and aid in our survival. This really helps (and is a good thing) with repetitive tasks, but is not so handy when we are looking for creative solutions and new possibilities that fit the future of what we want to be and achieve.
“To fall into habit is to begin to cease to be.” Miguel de Unamuno
Problems and challenges are not solved on the level they are created. Real change and transformation calls for a shift in consciousness and connection with more resources than the thinking, problem solving mind can offer. Yet we often tinker endlessly with our psychology trying to change ourselves, others or our environments in ways that better suit us. The real issue, however, is not just changing the things we do, but the state we are in.
An axiom of Generative leadership is that an organization will never perform higher than the consciousness of it’s leader, and that a person’s state equates to what realities and experiences are possible for them. If you have experienced the truth of this as I have, this is a substantial invitation for us to be conscious of and learn to cultivate a generative state that better serves the dreams and goals we want to achieve in life.
Generative leadership is not about control of moods or emotions, in fact it is about relaxing control, and slipping under the fence of reactivity and analysis-paralysis to open to and access possibilities that are only available beneath the conscious mind. We do this by becoming centered, connected to our intention, and open to new possibilities in a way that invites curiosity, exploration and openness to what is possible.
The more resources we can trust and have access to, the better we can show up as leaders. For instance, leaders can cultivate the ability to notice a closed and reactive state in themselves and their teams. They can create shift to a less contracted, more productive and creative state that generates new questions and options. It’s said that leadership is energy management, but it is also environment management. Creating an environment that is open to problem solving in creative and generative ways paves the way for growth mindset, innovation and meaningful achievement.
Leaders who are pragmatic are always prototyping and experimenting – a definition of creating. They are oriented toward possibility, evoking inspiration and creativity throughout their organization.
Thinking outside of the box doesn’t happen from thinking. Consider all the ways you already create a generative state, perhaps by listening to music, imaging an ideal vacation, or sitting on your board waiting for a wave. Reflect on how often this facilitates your being more receptive, open to insights, intuition and inspiration that emerges from the space you have created.
Leading generatively creates new possibilities, can be cultivated with your teams, and is key to transformation and achieving your dreams. The world is not going to slow down- only we can choose how we want to experience and explore how to thrive in the midst of it all.