A Resolution to Change A Life

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Happy New Year . . . and to help make it so . . .

I will be writing much of this year on the topic that has for three years completely seized my imagination, my research, teaching, client practice, and family life.  Paired Leadership.  Pairs — sometimes pure equals like spouses, co-founders, co-ceos.  Pairs — sometimes unequal in status like CEO and COO, governor and chief of staff, or parent and child.

Leadership is always about relationship.  I remember reading Leadership by James MacGregor Burns back in 1985 in Ron Heifetz leadership class.  Burns famously distinguished transactional from transformational leadership and crystalized the latter in this way:

Transforming leadership . . . occurs when one or more persons engage with others in such a way that leaders and followers raise one another to higher levels of motivation and morality. [emphasis added]

Burns charted in 1978 the unstoppable wave that moves through great families and companies and churches, and that is the wave of reciprocity. When we lead with our best self, we are simultaneously led. Leadership is not top down but AC/DC, alternating currents.

Pairs are the atomic unit for life and relationship.

So, here’s the RESOLUTION part:

  1. Identify 1-3 critical pairs or partners in your life.  Choose people whose “mission” or “purpose” matters to you.
  2. Commit to what you think will help them to be their best version of themselves.  Be specific in jotting what you think you can offer them (encouragement, coaching, ideas, resources, connections, financial support, etc.).
  3. Share with them what you have jotted about how you want to assist them to make sure you are aligned with them, rowing in a direction that supports them and their goals.
  4. Put a date on your calendar, e.g., in a month or in a quarter to check in with them to see if there is anything else you can do for them and to make sure you remain aligned.

The payoff is double: results and relationship.  When it comes to results, you may do more for the world by supporting your wife (I know that’s true for me) or manager or mayor than you will in your own efforts (and typical resolutions).  And, you will contribute greatly to your own satisfaction and happiness by committing yourself to another,

Leading with your best self!