Every leader I know is striving toward a future state that is so much better than what we have today. And they are acutely aware that they will have to grow in order to lead their people into that wonderful world ahead. So they “mind the gap,” but not in the way meant on London’s underground.
Instead, they focus on the gap between who they are today and who they will have to be in that distant future in order to create a new kind of results. If there is a single, most important difference between successful CEOs and senior executives who have not yet led their own organizations, I would say it is “minding the gap.” That is, intentionally transforming themselves to become more than they are today.
How do they mind the gap? Three ways: (1) studying, (2) meeting those who have done it already, and (3) new experience.
Studying means resolutely hunting down all the research, immersing yourself in the details, learning what is known and what must be discovered. It means becoming so familiar with the challenges and circumstances that you know them like the back of your hand.
Meeting those who have done it already is a perpetual quest for finding other people who have grappled with similar with situations and wrestled success from equivalent trials. There is nothing that can replace the lessons gleaned from someone who has persevered in a related problem and come up with real achievement. And it is not enough to watch a video of them, correspond by email or even talk on the phone. A personal visit is required. You must share air. There is something that transpires face-to-face that is irreplaceable.
New experience acknowledges the transformational power of immersing yourself in a different environment. I have taken field trips with CEOs and their senior teams where we go to other organizations that are succeeding in ways we want to succeed. The ambience, cultural mores and ways of setting up work are imbibed, transposed and applied to help win against difficult challenges.
Visionary leaders engage in self-transformation. For a little more on this, watch my 4 minute video, Seth Kahan on Self-transformation (https://vimeo.com/170963059)
There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.
– Aldous Huxley