As I stand at the heart of confused and disorganized change, turbulence swirls around me and through those closest to me. From this vantage point in the eye of the storm, I see the reactivity created by controlling and compliant behaviors. A tendency toward control in the overarching system has triggered compliance in the smaller sub-systems.
Compliance is driven by limiting beliefs, by old stories that say we must play nice, must fit in, must not rock the boat, if we are to be safe and worthy. The behaviours that tend to show up are pleasing, belonging, and passivity.
In the eye of this storm of change, I’ve been left standing. Wondering what response is needed from me in the moment, how I have allowed this to happen and where I have been complicit.
For I have been complicit, having seen signs of controlling and the potential for compliance. I signaled it, but only weakly. I doubted myself, thinking that I was making it up. I was passive.
Control and compliance, left unchallenged, limit our ability to step fully into creative leadership and innovative change.
It’s in this realization that I feel my old dragon stir from sleep, dusty and sleepy-eyed, unkempt. With torn talons, my dragon has risen up to protect myself and my team.
I want to burn my hot hacking breath into the systems that ‘just don’t get it.’
I catch myself in my arrogance. It is me that is not ‘getting it.’ In these moments of fire, I am being reactive in my desire to protect.
What would be most useful in these moments of turmoil? How can I become responsive rather than reactive? Where can I step into my creativity?
I settle my dragon. Breathe into courage, and commitment to the system work I believe so deeply in. Breathe into compassion and collaboration with my partners. Breathe into curiosity and creativity and the creativity of systems in which I form a part.
My dragon wipes the sleep from her eyes. Amusing to me, as the root word for dragon in ancient Greek was drakōn, meaning ‘to see clearly’ or ‘that which sees,’ and related to drakos, or ‘eye’.
As my dragon awakens, I am at the edge of change in my personal leadership, venturing into new territory.
Rather than just blowing hot air, my dragon has the ability to choose to see with great clarity and wisdom, and reflect back to the system what she observes.
Rather than being arrogant or superior, the task is simply to notice and reveal the system to itself.
At this leadership edge, as in old mariner maps, I note that ‘here be dragons.’ My dragon has a role to play – not to breathe fire, but to see and reveal in the process of leading change.
Kerry Woodcock, Ph.D., leads change for a world of change, She coaches pioneers and influencers to amplify the power of relationship and lead over the edge of change. As Principal of Novalda, she develops change leadership capability in organizations and social systems.