SpringI was walking in my garden last week and it inspired me to write this post.  Spring is blooming here.  Most of us look forward to the change of the season.  It made me wonder why we resist change in other aspects of our lives.  Aren’t we all part of the natural world and thus subject to it’s laws of constant change? Why do we expect the changes of the seasons, the tides, the very revolving of the earth in orbit, and resist the changes in organizations, jobs and careers? As we resist change, we stay stuck in leadership behaviors that no longer serve us.  I decided it was time for me to create my own ritual for spring cleaning just like cultures and faith traditions around the world.  We clean our houses, our closets, clean out the winter rubble in our gardens to plant seeds for the new season. Why not take the time to spring clean our leadership? Here are five steps I’m taking.

Step 1: Stop and connect with your leadership context.  Our world is constantly changing and yet many of us operate on old paradigms of “what was” or “what should be”.  Stop and examine the new reality. What is happening on the ground? When we are fearful of change, it actually prevents us from seeing the opportunity in it.  Here are some questions to ask yourself: 
  • What has changed in the business and in my organization?
  • What has changed for my key customers, suppliers, competitors, or stakeholders?
  • What new trends are emerging that could create opportunity?

Step 2: Stop and connect within.  Just as our external environment is constantly evolving, so are we.  Spring is a time to take stock of what’s changed within us as well:

  • What has changed in my life and my priorities?
  • What’s important to me now?
  • What’s a sense of purpose that energizes me? Where do I want to most contribute in my leadership now?

Step 3: Create a new vision of what’s exciting.  Changes in seasons call for us to adapt and constantly co-create with the changing environment outside and within.  Most of us resist change because we fear losing control.  What if our mindset was one where we saw the opportunity to create something new with the changes we see? As leaders, what if we made change an opportunity for everyone to engage in rather than a threat that paralyzes people?  Once we have taken stock of what’s changed and what’s emerging, it’s time for a new vision of what’s possible.   Ask yourself (and your teams):

  • What (projects, initiatives, goals, vision) do I (we) want to create from here ?
  • What’s exciting to me (or us) about this vision?
Step 4: Create a new vision for yourself as a leader.  An exciting vision of what we want to create calls forth a shift our own paradigms, behaviors, and ways of being.  Ask yourself:  
  • Who do I need to be to enable this new vision? (e.g. courageous, collaborative, etc).
  • What new perspectives or attitudes do I need to embrace?
  • What new behaviors will be required of me?

Step 5: Clear out the clutter to bring the vision to life.  What typically stands in the way of change are old assumptions, beliefs, behaviors. When we have an exciting vision that is big, we often experience resistance to that vision. The bigger the change, the greater the resistance. We need to become clear about what are some of our own barriers to change as well as the organizational barriers to change and be willing to surface these and then clean these out.  Ask yourself:

  • What are assumptions I hold about myself and others that need to shift?
  • What are assumptions that the organization holds that need to shift?
  • What are structures, processes, cultures, behaviors that are standing in the way?
  • What is one thing I am giving up today that will help me flow with the change?
  • What one action am I committing to take today to be fully aligned with the change?

I look forward to hearing from you which of these steps most resonated for you. What did you discover as you went through this exercise for yourself?

A version of this post first appeared on my Forbes leadership blog.

Additional Information:

Ten Lessons on Managing Change from Mother Nature

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Henna Inam - Professional Photo - ColorThis article was written by Henna Inam, CEO of Transformational Leadership Inc.  Her company works with organizations to help women realize their potential to be authentic, transformational leaders. Her clients drive breakthroughs in innovation, growth, and engagement. Her corporate clients include Coca Cola, UPS, Novartis, J&J, and others who know female leadership talent is good for business. To accelerate your own growth connect with her here. Connect on Twitter @hennainam.