Transformational Growth and Disruptive Change: What Drives Leaders’ Behavior?

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  • This blog post is part 2 of a two-part series on transformational growth and disruptive change.

    Is there anyone out there enjoying business as usual? The macroeconomic environment is serving up breathtaking disruptions with greater speed and such ferocious frequency that yesterday’s superstar leaders and global brands are quickly outpaced or overcome by more effective competitors. We’re all feeling the overwhelming pressure of change at work, whether we signed up for it or not.

    In a global survey we conducted in 110 nations, we asked high achievers about their definition of success in this new world. Even the most accomplished leaders are feeling under siege to accommodate what seems like contradictory pressures to accelerate growth while lowering costs. They’re struggling to balance the dynamic needs of four generations of employees, clients, and stakeholders who themselves are now in a state of perpetual and unpredictable change driven by disruptive competitors, new technology, and shifting market demands. Bestselling author Brian Tracy and I wrote a business leadership primer about how to manage in chaotic times in our book, Now, Build a Great Business!: 7 Ways to Maximize Your Profits in Any Market (AMACOM, 2010).

    The trends we’ve seen in our research have become obvious in our coaching practice too. The greatest challenge for leaders today is activating their own willingness to continue to role-model change by demonstrating growth as individuals, and then engaging their people to drive change rather than be run over by it. Those who cling to the status quo, or who resort to defending past successes with complacency or denial, do so at their own risk.

    The drivers of behavior for disruptive leaders

    What we discovered in our research is that high achievers don’t have just one definition of success. Surprisingly we found three distinctly different ideals that collide as drivers of their behavior: Purpose—Performance—Passion. You will often hear these words being tossed around as synonymous, but our World Success Survey revealed that they are distinctively different but related concepts.

    Purpose means that you’re pursuing a mission or ideal that’s larger than you as an individual; it could be a company, community, or other organizational ideal. Some people think of this as their legacy. Performance means that you’re driven to produce results and have impact for that Purpose—it’s something you care enough about to collaborate and even compete to win. In this context, Passion is about what drives your heart more than your head. It’s what you’d secretly do for free because it intrinsically motivates you. There are many things that you care about in life and work, but those things that ring all three of these definitions of success at the same time—Purpose, Performance, Passion—that triad is the formula for sustainable success.

    The No. 1 priority for the highest achievers today is to lead a personal and professional transformation for themselves and their teams. But that lofty goal can feel like attempting to change tires in the middle of rush-hour traffic. You have to lead transformation without sacrificing financial and operating results, or injuring your engagement scores.

    Disruptively successful people don’t settle on just one definition of success, but engage in a lifelong struggle to balance each of the three in their decision making, often describing it like juggling precious crystal balls while riding a unicycle. When you get them in sync, the result is something we all dream about in a world spinning with change: Success that matters and lasts a lifetime.

    Originally published on Linkedin Pulse

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  • Dr. Marshall Goldsmith
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