The Seasons of Leadership
Seasons in nature change for a purpose, and in the same way there are seasons in our leadership life. Here are four leadership seasons that we should pay attention to, adapt to and use to our advantage.
In the Bible, Ecclesiastes 3 famously opens with “There is a time for everything and everything on earth has its special season . . .” (NCV). Pete Seeger even took the words to the full chapter and “turned” it into a famous song.
Each different and each valuable.
Seasons in nature change for a purpose, and in the same way there are seasons in our leadership life that we should pay attention to, adapt to and use to our advantage.
Here is what I mean . . .
Spring brings vitality and new growth after a period of rest. As leaders our spring comes with fresh ideas and projects, new energy and vitality and fresh (and fast) growth. Spring can come after a great workshop or conference, the reading of powerful book or a stimulating conversation or meeting. In our leadership spring we are optimistic and hopeful, and our plans look exciting and achievable.
Because our focus is keen and our energy is high, we often use our skills at the highest level during this season.
Summer promotes strength and power. During our leadership summer we are strong and confident, resilient and moving forward. The most observable progress comes in summer and so we might think we want to stay here the longest, and while that is true, when we stop and think about it, we know that each day can be warm and sunny. We need more just like our gardens often thirst for a late summer rain.
As leaders in summer we must run hard and fast creating as many results as quickly as we can.
When autumn comes things begin to cool down. Energy from the summer begins to wane, but more importantly the autumn brings the harvest. The hard work and drive from the summer leads to a harvest – it might be awful, average or awesome – and in many ways the results will reflect the approaches of the summer.
In autumn we collect a harvest and begin to ask ourselves if the harvest was what we expected, or even what we needed.
In nature the winter is a time of dormancy and replenishment. So too for us as leaders we must refresh, rebuild and renew. Our harvest tells us much about how we lead and if we are honest with ourselves tells us what must come next. Yes, we must finish up the projects and plans. But in winter we must also plan and prepare for the next season of growth – both for ourselves individually, and for our teams collectively.
Remember that the best springs follow winters that truly create the time to pause and replenish. Dormant isn’t dead and what seems to be lethargy isn’t necessarily laziness. Winter is a time for rest and resting can lead to great results. Try going without sleep for an extended time and you will quickly realize this.
These leadership seasons aren’t exactly like their climatological cousins – your seasons might not always be the same length, and they might not match up with the real seasons at all. Further, you have the ability to recognize which season you are in, and make an adjustment to change your season as quickly as you could change climate by buying a ticket and stepping on a jet.
Now that you have a sense of these seasons, let me close by giving you a key to your leadership growth through these seasons in the form of some questions.
Which season do you tend to ignore or underestimate its value?
In which season do you tend to spend too much time?
Which season are you currently in?
In which season could you most benefit now?
If your season doesn’t match where you could be, what could you do to move your "calendar" to where you need to be?
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kevin Eikenberry is a leadership expert and the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group, a learning consulting company that helps Clients reach their potential through a variety of training, consulting and speaking services. You can learn more about him and a special offer on his newest book, Remarkable Leadership: Unleashing Your Leadership Potential One Skill at http://RemarkableLeadershipBook.com/bonuses.asp .