The success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervenor.
—Bill O’Brien, former CEO of Hanover Insurance Company
We’re in the race of our lives. It’s not between the “good guys” and “bad guys” but between the complexity of our world and the capacity of our minds to manage this complexity.
Jim Collins’s survey of 1400 companies showed that transforming from “good to great” requires Level 5 leadership: a paradoxical blend of professional ambition and personal humility. We also know from longitudinal research of small- and mid-sized organizations that companies’ capacity to transform is directly related to top executives’ own capacities. In particular their ability to integrate different perspectives, use a broad repertoire of power approaches, and self-correct.
That’s where leadership comes in.
The higher you rise and the larger your field of influence, the more complex the challenges that cross your desk. These challenges are strategic, organizational, political, environmental, cultural, financial, technical, legal, and interpersonal. And the complexity is growing every day.
That’s why so many of us feel in over our heads. It’s hard to “wrap our minds” around problems. Our bodies feel “drained.” And our organizations don’t quite have the mojo we know they are capable of.
The good news: everything our brains and bodies need to master complexity is already within us as unrealized potentials. And a growing vault of research shows us how to access these potentials.
The path forward starts with an important secret: Growing up doesn’t end at adulthood. Our bodies may not get bigger, but our minds have the capacity to develop through several stages of greater complexity and agility. According to adult developmental psychologists, not all of us get there, but we all have the potential. And neuroscientists remind us that our brains can rewire themselves. We have neuroplasticity.
Why does this matter? Because it suggests a very specific focus for anyone trying to improve organizations for the better. If you want to foster greatness–or even wrestle goodness out of the clutches of mediocrity–focus on growing human minds. And if you are in the faster-is-better, club, cool. Let’s accelerate the development of our minds to catch up with the complexity of the world around us.
Our project is to bring these secrets out into the open for the clients we serve. We think of it as helping you upgrade your leadership operating system so it can handle a blizzard of new applications. So your mind, body and—yes, heart—grow to meet the level of complexity around you.