Ginny Wilson-Peters' Blog
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” Buckminister Fuller
In December I had the opportunity to listen to two women CEOs in one week’s time. The women struck me as very different and yet very inspiring. The first was Sister Joan Lescinski, President of St Ambrose University. Sister Joan was kind enough to sit in circle and share her experiences with our “Grow to be CEO” women’s leadership group. Exerts of Sister Joan’s conversation with our group are included on page 2 of this newsletter.
The second woman leader was Meg Whitman, CEO of E-Bay who was speaking at a local Chamber breakfast. During the course of her presentation, she shared the keys to business success. The last one discussed was “Disruptive innovation is key and has to come from within.” She talked about the fact the E-Bay was constantly looking for ways to reinvent themselves in order to stay ahead of the marketplace. Given the successful growth of E-Bay in recent years, one can hardly argue that the strategy hasn’t been successful.
But Meg’s comment about disruptive innovation caught my attention for another reason as well. What about the role of disruptive innovation in personal leadership development? I found myself asking myself these questions: Where am I stuck in my own life? Where in my life do I need some disruptive innovation? ”
In his research about unleashing self-directed learning, Richard E. Boyatzis, PhD said this: “Most, if not all, sustainable behavioral change is intentional. Self-directed change is an intentional change in an aspect of who you are (i.e., the Real) or who you want to be (i.e., the Ideal), or both. Self-directed learning is self-directed change in which you are aware of the change and understand the process of change.
The (growth) process may not and often does not occur as a smooth, linear event. It occurs with a surprise. The person’s behavior may seem to be stuck for long periods of time and then a change appears quite suddenly. This is a discontinuity. A person might begin the process of self-directed learning at any point in the process, but it will often begin when the person experiences a discontinuity, the associated epiphany or a moment of awareness and a sense of urgency.” (Unleashing the Power of Self-Directed Learning, May 2001).
I’ve written and spoke many times in the past about the 360 leadership assessment I received ten years ago when I was President of Midland Press Corporation. That assessment was an example of discontinuity and disruption for me; it set me on a new path to change my leadership style and show up in the world in a more compassionate, yet results-oriented way. Ultimately it also led me to leave my position at Midland and start my own business.
My recent trip to South Africa was my most recent example of disruption. We met with a variety of women leaders and there were several times when I felt a kick in the gut to do more—or do things differently. To provide just one example, during a breakfast dialogue with women leaders at the Gordon Institute of Business, author Meg Wheatley said (summarized by me): “Seventy percent of poor and illiterate are women; 95% of the casualties of war are women. On a global level, we are not dealing with the issues of women and poverty. You have to conclude that this is a world that does not care about our children.”
Meg went on to say: “I don’t know if woman can change the world. But I don’t know anything else that might!
And so, the kick in the guts have reminded me that as women, we have everything we need already to create positive change in the world. Are we ready?
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