Initiative 6 – Acknowledge Bold and Courageous Steps

By Paul R. Scheele Ph.D. | Transform

The last of six initiatives to transform individuals and organizations looks at how leaders can acknowledge and celebrate those who choose to take bold action for change. In doing so a leader reinforces the importance of doing adaptive work and encourages positive engagement and progress.

Initiative #6: Acknowledge bold and courageous plans to act by highlighting commitments to take concrete steps—no matter how small—that contribute to a greater collective response.

Bold Action

Many people and companies spend a lot of time, energy, and money doing a wonderful job of solving the wrong problems. To avoid such dead-ends, using the six initiatives can lead to solutions that work.

Initiatives 1, 2, and 3, help us accurately identify the problems we face as we embrace dilemmas, create safe space to explore them, and critically reflect on the mental models holding them in place.

Initiatives 4 and 5 help bring the right solutions forward as we articulate and illuminate the powerful insights that come from a higher wisdom within us.

All five steps are only the precursor for the actions that will change the status quo. As the German Philosopher Goethe said, “Boldness has genius power and magic in it. Only engage and then the mind grows heated. Begin it, and then the work will be completed.” Taking action to adapt to our new circumstances and change our outcomes is the obvious next step. That is when acknowledgment and support from leadership is needed.

Doing Adaptive Work

Resolving a disorienting and disruptive dilemma requires that you make a change in the way you approach problems. You must do adaptive work, seeking a future that may look very different than anything from your history. In doing so, you are venturing into new territory. As described by Heifeitz, et al, in the book The Practice of Adaptive Leadership:
Making progress requires going beyond any authoritative expertise to mobilize discovery, shedding certain entrenched ways, tolerating losses, and generating the new capacity to thrive anew. (p. 19)

Peter Senge, in his book The Necessary Revolution, describes that creating sustainable futures requires that we learn to see the big picture, collaborate across boundaries, and seek futures we truly desire. When someone chooses such a bold course of action, the most supportive thing that we can do is acknowledge their efforts and offer the resources to assist in any way possible.

Acknowledge and Empower

Leadership development has long focused on the importance of giving voice to those with informal power and no formal authority. This is not merely “lip service,” but an act of standing alongside those who are willing to confront the challenges that lie ahead. Celebrating their courage, acknowledging their choices with approval, and offering available resources in support of the plan are ways of empowering the actions to be taken.

Think of a time in your life when someone of authority celebrated your choices and helped empower you at a critical time. Not only can you pay it forward to others, but consider being your own best coach/supporter when you are taking the initiative to transform your life.

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© Paul R. Scheele, Ph.D. | Scheele Learning Systems | All Rights Reserved