The fallacy of going it alone
Independence has often been heralded as an essential quality – overtly for entrepreneurs and as a sub-text for others such as high performers on their way up the corporate ladder similarly for senior leaders. It is part of a particular mindset that one can associate with words such as ‘go-getter,’ ‘self starter,’ ‘fast track,’ and that oh so “’08” word ‘maverick.’

The Reiss Desire Profile of Motivational Tendencies, an assessment of 16 core motivators, helped me to see the role that Independence plays in my own behaviour. The old adage about your biggest strength if overused becomes a weakness holds true when it comes to Independence. Since my pattern is to be unconscious about asking for help, I need to be intentional about creating ways to reach out to others.

Changing Landscape
Everywhere you look, you find moment to moment examples of the increasing levels of complexity that face us on a personal and organizational level. You have to navigate through new technologies that impact how we communicate and process data. Even if you are a techie there can be a certain fatigue or unnatural over-excitement and dissatisfaction that come from being on this treadmill. Client needs are continually expanding while resources are often dwindling. There comes a point where you realize that you cannot do it all by yourself. Even if you could, you run the risk of being blindsided that you didn’t anticipate.

An important part of your strategy
Here’s where “reaching out” steps into play a critical role. Who do you turn to when you need some input that you can trust? Before you get to the point of overwhelm there is tremendous value in being intentional in creating a community so that you are not working in isolation. I don’t have one definition to offer for community but I have a list of examples of places where I reach out. You might find an idea to try.

  • Mastermind: Typically of group of 8 to 10 from diverse business backgrounds that meet once a month to talk about their business challenges.
  • Trusted Advisors: People who know your work as a result of collaborations or parallel interests and are open to being in conversation with you about things you may be considering. They may or may not be friends but they are people that you can trust and who you know will give you the straight goods and who also appreciate your support and input.
  • Professional Associations: Meetings and conferences offer learning opportunities
  • Virtual Communities: Online discussion forums where you can get instant input often from a global community
  • Learning Community: These may take various forms. I have two groups that I value. One is a group that has continued to meet 4 years after a coach training to share best practices and new learning. The other is within the consulting company where I am an associate where professiona l development and ongoing group learning is an embedded value and practice.
  • Board of Directors: An idea that is not just for corporations – When you are considering a major shift think about convening a group of knowledgeable individuals from various arenas to guide you. You may be surprised at just how willing people are to help if you approach them in the right way.
  • Your clients and customers: Perhaps you greatest source of help, support and information if you ask.

Before you reach out to others consider how to truly benefit from this approach:

  1. Set aside the role of expert
  2. Listen objectively without need to judge or justify
  3. Allow space for input to percolate and for new ideas to emerge
  4. Try out the ideas that a fit before you have every wrinkle resolved. Senge, Scharmer, Jaworski and Flowers espouse the value of prototyping in their work “Presence.” You will know quickly enough whether to adjust or abandon an idea.

Reaching Out has beneficial side effects:
Not only do you get a clearer perspective on the big picture and pieces that may be blind spots for you, but also in the long run you end up with a better result than you could have by clinging to “going it alone”. There is also a paradox at play. When you are honest in bringing a genuine question to the table it builds trust and confidence in your capabilities rather than diminishing your position.

Category: Best practices / Other Assessments
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