Some days, we forget that when we practice leadership, “you need to accept that you are in the business of generating chaos, confusion, and conflict, for yourself and others around you,” notes Ron Heiftz, Alexander Grashow, and Marty Linsky in their book, The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing Your Organization and the World (Harvard Business Press, 2009). As they continue, “building up your tolerance for disorder, ambiguity, and tension are particularly important in leading adaptive change.” From my experience, this may mean that a leader needs to move outside their comfort zone which few people really like to do.
As we lead during adaptive changes and move outside our comfort zone, there is one thing we can do which is important and can make a difference, namely clarify your role within the organization. Typically, this means that you sit down with your supervisor and clarify your role, responsibilities, their expectations and your goals. But there is another element to this process which is more challenging, namely separating your role from yourself.
As the above authors explain, “Whatever role you are playing at any one time, that role does not represent all of who you are, even if it feels that way.” We need to remember that our role at work is only a part of us. We as a person are greater than our role.
This simple task of separating role from self will help you handle the work of adaptive leadership. As the above authors continue, “When you make a distinction between the roles you play and yourself, you gain the emotional strength to ignore personal attacks your opponents hope will stymie your initiative…. though an attack may feel personal (and be intended as personal), it is not a statement about your character or your worth as a human being. It is a strategy and an attempt to manipulate you.”
This week, remember that when chaos and ambiguity appear in your world, define your role, but do not loose touch with your worth as a human being.