Leadership Quarterly

There Is No Safe Path to Leadership

February, 2012 | by Bob Anderson
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    The core tension that we manage as adults, in my opinion, and especially as leaders, is the tension between purpose and safety. Each of us is oriented toward a purpose that desires to come through our lives. Leaders, especially great leaders, are moved by a deep sense of personal purpose. They discern it. They distill it. They stand for it. When we see great leadership, we see someone standing for something that’s vital to them—something that matters more than anything else, around which they build their life and their leadership. I don’t know about you, but when I orient my life toward bold purpose, I come quickly to understand that this is inherently risky. I have long wished for a safe way to go about this but I haven’t found one. The natural inherent tension in clarifying and focusing on purpose is that it immediately raises the possibility of risk. I’m an entrepreneur with a growing global business, so I understand that pursuing purpose puts me at risk all the time. How does this tie into the Leadership Circle Profile? When you receive the results of your Leadership Circle Profile, you get data that is actually organized around this core tension. In other words, the extent to which you orient your leadership toward purpose or safety will show up in your Leadership Circle Profile. For example, if you are oriented toward purpose, vision, and contribution, you are likely to see stronger scores in the top half of the circle but, if you are oriented more toward safety, then you’re going to receive stronger scores in the bottom half of the circle. When we orient our life and our leadership toward creating what matters most, and that is the primary driver, we are in what I call, Creative Structure or Creative Structure of Mind. When our primary focus is oriented toward staying safe, then we are more likely to live and lead out of a Reactive Structure of Mind—running the behavioral strategies that you run when you get threatened. Although The Leadership Circle Profile can be used as a thorough competency assessment, it also provides an indication of how much of your life energy and orientation is in either the Creative or Reactive Structure. If you are more focused on safety, you will be acting in a way Larry Wilson called, “Playing-Not-To-Lose”, and you will be more likely to operate in a Reactive Structure. These behaviors are the Reactive Tendencies which will show up in the bottom half of the circle in your Leadership Circle Profile. You can also use the assessment to get a clearer sense of how you’re performing as a leader. Contrarily, the top half of the circle indicates the extent to which your leadership is oriented toward forming your purpose into a vision that is both strategic and lofty–strategic because it sets a direction in which the organization will thrive, and lofty because it captures your imagination and that of others. To view a video presentation of Bob Anderson presenting the information in this article, click here. Download the entire White Paper here.
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        2 Responses

        02.02.12

        Good stuff Bob. Keep it coming!

        02.02.12

        Bob, you are always articulate but you have outdone yourself with this white paper. You have brilliantly and simply laid out an explanation of the Reactive and Creative structures and the benefits that moving to a Creative mindset will create. I especially appreciate how you have drawn out the distinction between “going for” your passion and purpose and playing it safe in life. Bravo!

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