Today’s progressive companies profit from energetic, authentic and transformational leadership that takes their organisation to its next stage of growth. If you’re an aspiring leader whose ambitions are limitless or currently feeling constricted but craving greatness, what is your plan of action to achieve fulfillment? How will you pursue the development of your leadership capability and capacity?
It’s a journey, an inner and outer one, which is required to develop increased leadership capacity and capability. If one is to transform the culture of their team or organisation they must first transform themselves. A Hero / Heroine’s journey is required. The Hero’s journey has long been documented by famed mythologist and human behaviour researcher Joseph Campbell.
“Furthermore, we have not even to risk the adventure alone; for the heroes of all time have gone before us, the labyrinth is thoroughly known; we have only to follow the thread of the hero-path. And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the centre of our own existence; and where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world”
Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces
Joseph Campbell’s reference to The Hero’s Journey has lent its legacy to many interpretations of the path a leader must travel to achieve excellence, both on a personal and organisational level. The hero (aka leader) must travel a road paved with a series of challenges, which must be overcome in order to arrive stronger, wiser and transformed at their destination. This is an inevitable journey for every human being, but today’s most effective modern leaders continually embark on a path of continuous personal development in response to an ever-changing corporate landscape. They know they cannot afford to rest on their laurels.
- The Call to Adventure – often leaders are thrust into an adventure by unexpected market forces, an executive’s bright idea or the board’s request for radical change. Sometimes the leader’s own vision can instigate a venture into the unknown. This stage is an inevitable part of an individual’s growth.
- Crossing the Threshold – once you leave your established comfort zone, you open yourself up to a myriad of possibilities and challenges. It is here that you will encounter your beliefs and assumptions – if you believe in opportunity you will find it, and if you believe in struggle and dilemma you will find it also.
- Meeting the Mentor / Rejecting the Mentor – leaders truly committed to transforming their tried-and-tested approach to create new possibilities will usually retain the services of a trusted advisor. This coach or mentor knows the territory and is fully committed to succeeding or failing alongside the leader.
- Monsters, Seducers, Tricksters and other Determined Foe – If you seek to shift the cultural norms of an organisation you will meet head-on what Kegan and Lahey refer to as ‘the immunity to change’ in individuals and the collective. Leaders used to the transformational journey know they must first complete the inner journey before leading others on the outer. The impact of those unconsciously or knowingly aiming to stifle change will be equal to the leaders own fears about failing.
- Breakthrough to Transformation – On every journey you will come the point of no return. The point where the leader has traveled too far to turn back and succeeding through this requires one final application of courage. Trust is the best friend of courage and transformation happens when the optimist thrusts forward through the abyss of the unknown. As one client told me, breakthrough feels like breakdown!
- Re-Integration (finding the gold) – Once transformed a leader will have new energy, new beliefs about what is possible, new confidence and trust in those around them, and a renewed clarity and vigour about their personal purpose. This new leader has integrated all of their previous knowledge, skills and experience with new and complimentary capabilities.
- Returning home – The homecoming brings its own joys and challenges; whereas some people may be intrigued and curious about the observable changes in the leaders potency, others will be scared and suspicious. The leader will be empathic, strategic and peacefully powerful in how they engage and inspire those they re-meet for the first time. This shift in leadership will naturally result in a change in the relationships they have.
Venturing into the unknown, facing risks and overcoming one’s fears are the basic premise of this journey, where the individual must adopt a new and objective mindset to successfully navigate these obstacles.
What confidence does a caterpillar have to take the extraordinary step of shedding it’s well developed strengths and capabilities, while its body disintegrates into mush only to resurface as an entirely different structure with enhanced capabilities? What’s your experience of the hero’s journey?
Why not get in touch so we can assess your status quo and identify the next step in your career path? You can reach me on today or call 0415 984 877