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John Maxwell Team Certified Member

Priscilla Archangel is a John Maxwell Team Certified Coach, Teacher and Speaker.

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    Camaros and Butterflies: Transforming Your Leadership (Part 1)

    Jeb came home exhausted at the end of the work week. But it wasn’t just this week. He felt the same way every week. Regarded as one of the smartest leaders in the organization, Jeb was working hard on several major projects which would bring tremendous revenue to his business unit, and he was on the short list for promotion to vice president within the next two years at his company. This was the big leap he had been waiting for. But somehow, the leadership approach Jeb used during the first 20 years of his career wasn’t working like it had in the past. Three months into a new assignment, he was beginning to experience greater difficulty in motivating and aligning his team’s individual interests with corporate goals, getting them to bring new ideas forward, and collaborating with peers in other business units. Left unaddressed, his results would be negatively impacted. So Jeb knew he needed to change his approach to leadership quickly, but he wasn’t sure what to do.

    Jeb decided to call Sue, his former mentor, who had retired from her executive vice president role at the company several years earlier. He had spoken with her four or five times since she left. Jeb worked for Sue when he first joined the company 15 years ago, and she knew his style as well as the corporate culture. Sue was known to be very perceptive, and organizationally savvy, and she had a track record of developing strong leaders. Sometimes her insights made Jeb wince, but he was desperate and needed to talk with someone who could help him. Sue chuckled when she answered the phone. She was still well connected within the organization and wasn’t surprised to see his name on her caller ID. Surprisingly, she was available for breakfast the next morning and Jeb jumped at the chance to sit down with her.

    Sue greeted Jeb warmly when they met at an out-of-the-way breakfast spot 14 hours later. He didn’t want to run into colleagues at one of the more popular restaurants and have people guessing as to the reason for their meeting. After quickly placing their orders, Jeb jumped right into the reason for their meeting. He described the challenges he was facing, the approach he was using to lead his team and interact with others, and the results he was getting. Sue listened intently, asked questions occasionally, and then smiled. Jeb paused for a moment, wondering what she was thinking. Then she made one simple statement: “If you want to transition to the next level of leadership, you need to transform your leadership.” Jeb’s disappointment was visible. He was expecting her to dissect organizational problems, not his leadership. What did she mean?

    Sue let Jeb sit with his frustration for a moment. She had observed his leadership style and skills for many years, first when he was a member of her team and then as he rotated to other positions within the organization. She participated in leadership team discussions where his performance and potential were reviewed. She knew his capabilities as well as his shortcomings. Sue also knew the leadership style necessary to be effective in Jeb’s current and future roles at the company. And she knew the moment would come when he would sincerely ask her what he needed to do to transition to the next level.

    The conversation wasn’t new. But maybe Jeb was finally committed to transforming his style. In the past, he continually made excuses to justify his own approach. He “didn’t think it took all of that to be successful as a leader.” Jeb wanted to be true to himself and not try to act like someone else. He had always gotten ahead because of his technical understanding of the product and his ability to predict the future direction of the market. But lately, more people were questioning his emotional intelligence. He had completed a number of in-house leadership development courses, even met with a coach a few times, but he tended to resist changing. His best friend and colleague, Barry, teased him about being stubborn.

    Sue kept in touch with Jeb even after she retired because she saw his potential and hoped one day, they would be able to have the conversation they were now having. In fact, she even planned for it. Before she left the house that morning, she slipped an object into her pocket hoping this was the right time to pull it out. Thankfully, it was. She pulled out a toy Camaro vehicle and set it on the table between them.  Jeb was momentarily speechless. He wasn’t sure where Sue was coming from. Sue quickly spoke up and explained this was her grandson’s toy. He plays with it whenever he comes to visit her. He starts out by running it all around the floor, creating a story in his six-year-old mind. Then he picks it up, starts twisting the pieces, and voila! It’s a superpower called a Transformer, overcoming all evil in his imaginary story. But the beauty of it is whether it looks like a Camaro or a Transformer, both use the same components. In fact, even when it looks like a Camaro, it’s still called a Transformer. Yet it’s capable of accomplishing far more in its Transformer mode……

    It’s been my pleasure to share a portion of the introduction to my new book LeaderVantage to be released in April 2020. Stay tuned for Part 2 in my April newsletter, and order your advance copy of the book here!

    Copyright 2020 Priscilla Archangel
    Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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