These three things initiate the Downward Spiral that leaders can find themselves in:
1. Personal: “I’m no good; why did I think I could _______?” Dr Cloud tells a story to illustrate that although we all make mistakes, those of us who are naive, oblivious or cheerful enough will survive these critical times by refusing to take our failings personally.
2. Pervasive: An issue spreads broadly and appears much larger than it really is. “It’s not one person, it’s all of them; they all think that. Everything has gone bad. My whole life sucks.”
3. Permanent: “It will always be this way. This isn’t going to change.” Another lie.
Even the best performers can find themselves spiralling. Our brains change, something switches, and so it begins. Do you need to eliminate any of these three errors of thought?
Adapted from the “Reversing the Death Spiral of a Leader” talk by Dr. Henry Cloud at the Global Leadership Summit 2013. Part 3.
Some time during the hard-work of leading, it starts to happen. What does? The downward spiral. If you haven’t experienced it yet, just keep succeeding… it will come!
Leaders start Here and move on towards There… and somewhere along that path, the surrounding circumstances cause them to go Out of Control. It’s a kind of learned-helplessness. When what you used to do doesn’t work, the spiral begins.
The leaders that don’t start on the downward spiral (or those who make their way out of it) have something different in their favour. Belief. This can make all the difference. Believing you can, even if you can’t… this is good. Believing you can’t, when you actually can… definitely not good.
Leaders who resist and survive the death-spiral think, feel and behave differently than others. Are you in control of your thinking? Are you feeding your emotions in a healthy way? Are you aware of the situations you’re in and acting appropriately?
Adapted from the “Reversing the Death Spiral of a Leader” talk by Dr. Henry Cloud at the Global Leadership Summit 2013. Part 2.
Dr. Henry Cloud starts his talk on Reversing the Death Spiral of a Leader with a story of a family business, involving a father-boss and a son-employee. Unfortunately, at some point the son makes a momentous stuff up, and his dad fires him. Or at least his boss does. Immediately afterwards, dad changes tack: “I hear you lost your job today son. Can I help you?”
It’s funny. You can feel for the father who obviously has had a tough choice to make… but he seems to have dealt with it well enough! It is also a demonstration of the post title, being “ridiculously in charge”, which of course the father-boss is, firing-and-hiring in the same breath.
This serves simply as a fun warm-up that precedes an important starting point: leaders are in charge of themselves. To lead means to take action, to accept responsibility, to exert energy for the sake of others.
Are you taking action? Are you taking responsibility? Are you exerting your energy in the best way?
Adapted from the “Reversing the Death Spiral of a Leader” talk by Dr. Henry Cloud at the Global Leadership Summit 2013. Part 1.
Artist Linnea Spransy sharing for 3 minutes on the importance of limitation in art.
There’s also a neat book called Chaos: Making A New Science which dives much deeper into some elements of this talk, tracing the development of the chaos theory. It contains firstly stories of the people involved and how they chased after or stumbled into discoveries, and secondly, deeper explanations behind their work. Some of the parts were a little hard for me to follow, but it was do-able. I particularly loved the stories and the pioneering spirit which they expressed.