Leadership Cycle: Is History destined to repeat itself?
World history is usually taught as the history of civilizations. The significant facts are generally the ones that have had a bearing on the development of those civilizations. Human history is an unending series of repeated cycles. The world is round and almost everything goes through cycles. There are life cycles, climate cycles, economic cycles and political cycles to name a few. Just look at the circular dial of a watch: the hand revolves around and around, as time recurs in a cycle. It can be argued that leadership like the rest of our affairs is essentially cyclical in character. Effective leadership is commonly viewed as central to organizational success.
The Leadership cycle includes five stages - Awareness, Development, Maturity, Reinvention and Decline.
Stage 1. Leadership Awareness – A leader is born. A situation arises, a leader steps forward, takes the helm and acts in that capacity. He / she creates the vision and sets goals.
Stage 2. Leadership Development – Based on the organization, type of business, environment and people, the appropriate leadership style is developed. Growth is achieved by observing other leaders as well as from personal experiences.
Stage 3. Leadership Maturity – Leaders at this stage have proven performance. They are confident with their experience and in their abilities and so may become complacent believing what worked in the past will work in the future. They think that past behaviours are indicators of future success. Many managers get stuck in this stage and skip Stage 4 (Reinvention) fast forwarding to the Stage 5 (Decline).
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” ~ Alvin Toffler
Stage 4. Leadership Reinvention –This stage is characterized by adaptability and openness to change. Learning is a lifelong process. Successful leaders are always reinventing themselves. They are constantly surveying the environment thus recognizing the external and internal trends and making the necessary personal changes.
Stage 5. Leadership Decline- Everything comes to an end. A leader must accept when their journey is over and let go. At this stage, once succession planning was embraced the leader’s legacy lives on. The goal of true leaders is not to make more followers but more leaders.
Unethical behavior or poor performance can thrust a leader to the Stage 5 (Decline) thereby skipping the sequential order of stages.
If you don't pay attention to the past, you'll never understand the future. It's all linked together.”~ Sarah Dessen
The 21st century requires forward thinking ethical leaders who embrace the bigger picture. They are interested in how their decisions will affect the future. They foresee the road ahead and make the necessary strategic plans. They don’t just look ahead but behind as well to determine the best plan for progress. They don’t get complacent with success.
"You can't connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking back, so you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future... even when it leads you off the well-worn path." ~ Steve Jobs
History clearly shows that it repeats itself.
If we would study the past, it has the keys to unlock the mysteries of the future. The beliefs, habits and practices from our past are powerful tools if used as a springboard into the future. Effective leaders selectively hold onto certain elements of the past, whilst they focus on investing in building for the future.
Are we doomed to repeat the same mistakes? Not necessarily, that is why it’s important to understand the lessons from the past, the realities of the present, and the likely consequences of a decision for the future. We don’t just enter the future. We create it.
"The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” ~ Albert Einstein
Full article is contained in my new book. The Edge of Leadership: A Leader's Handbook for Success.
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