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Leadership lessons: The power of flexing and its impact

Leadership lessons: The power of flexing and its impact

How emerging leaders can own their growth and discover best practices from learning experiences

Leadership lessons ADMC Michigan Power of flexing Sue Ashford

In today’s business environment, leadership skills are more sought-after than ever before. Organisations recognise the benefits of dynamic influencers, and that leadership shouldn’t just come from individuals in formal leadership positions.

Emerging leaders seeking to ascend to new levels of personal and professional growth may benefit from implementing ‘The Power of Flexing‘ system.

Flexing represents a different and flexible approach to developing potential leaders and individuals. At its core, flexing allows one to own their growth and discover best practices from learning experiences that one can use to grow whenever and however one desires. There are three critical components of flexing that, if implemented correctly, allow emerging leaders to grow intentionally at the individual and organizational levels.

The first leadership lesson: emerging leaders should grow intentionally with a learning mindset.

While learning and growth should never stop regardless of where one is on their career path, emerging leaders will find it particularly beneficial to prioritise growth through their experiences, seeing that most of what people learn comes directly from their experiences. Primarily, learning from experience provides the right tools to excel without neglecting what one learns from academics, books, or role models.

The second leadership lesson: emerging leaders should set goals for growth.

Setting purposeful and constructive goals involves being mindful of the future, present, and past. A helpful practice for being future-oriented with one’s goals can entail creating affirmations, or “Fantasies of the Future,” such as “I will be … “, “I will do … ” or “I will achieve … “. Making these affirmations specific and distinct can help provide motivation and insight into the most important goals for an individual to reach. While being future-oriented, one must also pay particular attention to the “Pain of the Present,” otherwise known as what is currently hindering growth that needs assessment.

Feedback is instrumental when attempting to understand what presently requires improvement and can support refining one’s goals. Previous lessons or experiences can also influence goals, referred to as “Phantoms of the Past.” It is not uncommon for individuals to bring lessons learned earlier in personal life to organizational life that aren’t particularly effective. Recognising when one is carrying previous lessons that offer no benefit to the present and addressing them appropriately is necessary for any individual seeking growth.

The third leadership lesson: emerging leaders should take action.

As the saying goes, “It’s easier to steer a moving car than one that’s standing still.” Taking action also necessitates trying new things, which can be daunting but is integral to flexing.

It is far more challenging to achieve leadership goals without assessing the most favorable and effective ways for an individual to reach them. Succeeding as a leader can look reasonably different across all people, as can the methods and approaches used to get there. Hence, exploring and discovering the most successful practices that work best for the individual while embracing adaptability is essential.

Consequently, trying new things also means getting comfortable with the fact that mistakes will happen, and learners should welcome them as valuable lessons instead of growth hindrances. Individuals should be less difficult and strict with themselves and their team to alleviate pressure and empower individuals with more motivation and, most importantly, the courage to take initiative.

These three essential lessons are part of a broader learning process to extract knowledge from learning experiences at their full potential. In order to effectively extract the necessary knowledge from various learning experiences, emerging leaders should:

  1. Embrace a learning mindset and do the best one can do in order to learn.
  2. Isolate and focus on something specific that requires improvement.
  3. Experiment with various ways to improve the isolated issue.
  4. Apply experimentations to action.
  5. Seek feedback by observing and consulting with team members.
  6. Self-reflect on the entire process.

Approaching experiences by isolating, experimenting, applying, seeking, and reflecting, all with a learning mindset, maximises the effectiveness for anyone seeking to grow intentionally through their experiences.

While emerging leaders in organisations can greatly benefit from “The Power of Flexing” system, it is important to recognise that anyone looking to grow can benefit from the system as well.

Applying the valuable skills learned from flexing to everyday life allows for endless opportunities for anyone hoping to be the best and most effective version of themselves in leadership, family, community, and beyond.

Sue Ashford is an author and professor of Management and Organizations at University of Michigan Ross School of Business

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