In his new book Drive, Dan Pink has created yet another ‘must-read’ for anyone who aspires to 21st Century Leadership.
As Dan says on page 92 of this well researched and written work, “This era doesn’t call for better management. It calls for a renaissance of self-direction.”
My Client Ric, like me, is a fan of Dan Pink. We were in a conversation recently where I referred to Dan’s language of a “default setting.” Ric and I were talking about a new approach to leadership development in his organization. His entire leadership team had recently participated in a two-day experience that was designed around a very not-so-normal outcome.
Because of the non-traditional, creative approach in this experience, some people are struggling with an outcome focused on behavioral commitment. Traditionally, a strategic retreat ends with ‘next-steps’ and ‘action plans’ with assignments. In other words, these strategic planning retreats end in a manner that lets the majority of the participants off-the-hook to actually do anything – to be accountable for any change.
Forming a team to address such-and-such issue is simply a dodge to making a personal commitment. In this particular two-day experience, it was clearly stated up front that the intended outcome was a single and focused collective commitment and accountability … a behavioral commitment. This was achieved.
Action planning and next step type outcomes are externally focused. A behavioral commitment – intended individually and collectively – is internally focused. And there lies the rub.
Externally focused outcomes do not manifest in any real change when not driven by internal commitment – behavior that yields the desired results. A focus only on the external is the default setting.
It’s like my laptop – if someone were to take it from me and restore it to the default settings, I would not want it back. If I must once again make it my own, then I would prefer to have a brand-new one. It was both effective and productive because I was free to make it my own. It was a product of self-direction.
The 21st Century calls loudly for an authentic flow from the internal to the external – a flow of individual commitment that organically unfolds into a productive, collective accountability.