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Want to Be a True Unstuck Leader? Learn to Let Go of Stability.

For all my talk about values and purpose and complex adaptive systems, none of it matters, and you will remain irretrievably stuck, if you’re unable to do this one simple thing: Let. Go.

Letting go seems counter intuitive. Common wisdom dictates that leaders must not let go because letting go is lazy and irresponsible. The leader must maintain control. She must aim for stability. Stability is what makes companies successful over time.

Right? It turns out, not so much.

Stability is enticing because it soothes our need for certainty. When things are stable, we know what’s going to happen next, and that gives us confidence.

The problem with stability is that it’s rigid. Stuck leaders mistake rigidity for solidity. It feels like solid ground. It feels comfortable. But in reality, rigidity and the false confidence it imbues are dangerous. As any engineer can tell you, the thing about rigidity is that it makes things more fragile. And, more likely to break.

For an Unstuck Leader, the opposite of stability isn’t instability, it’s resilience. Resilience is elastic. It bends and expands and contracts. It feels much less comfortable. It’s wobbly. And, it’s imperative to an organization’s ability to survive and thrive in the variable environment of the knowledge era.

Resilience allows for learning-based evolution. It requires integrity, that is to say, a willingness to prioritize truth over comfort. Resilient organizations evolve and diversify – they become more complex. This leaves them better equipped to respond to a complex environment.

What do we need to let go of?

1. Inauthentic Power. Trade control for enablement. Learn more about that here.

2. Message Control. Trade opaqueness and secrecy for transparency. Because when you stop telling your team things, they stop telling you things.

3. Being Right. Trade ego for curiosity. Because our imaginations are far too limited to dream of everything that's possible.

4. What's ending. Trade grasping for accepting. Because failure to let go of what's ending is one of the most common reasons for stuckness.

When we refuse to let go, we turn our backs on possibilities and potential. We’re inclined to protect the thing that’s not working. And that’s a terrible thing. Because something new is emerging. Something is waiting to be born. And together with your team, you can co-create it.

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The Unstuck Leader book is now available.
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