Patterns & Insights


Leadership Growth – Building Capacity During Career Transitions

by | Mar 26, 2020 | career transitions, growth, leadership

Leadership is a state of mind and being.

Competency and capability are not linked to job title or paygrade. In fact, those who become competent and capable leaders recognize it is a journey for the whole person. Leadership is also something that grows over time, sometimes dramatically, but mostly very subtly for those who nurture it. Like nurturing seedlings or little ones, growing oneself as a leader requires a mindset to do so. There are basic things that we all can pursue to bring out our inner leader, whether early in career or entering a second or third chapter in our careers. Often at the core is a willingness to do the sometimes difficult work of self-discovery – what you do well and not so well – in pursuit of a path for growth.

Opportunities for incremental growth during career transitions.

I have reflected recently on the numerous types of opportunities for creating a growth spurt in one’s leadership capacity while going through a career transition. These career transitions offer the potential for growth, whether they are self-initiated, only subtle changes in responsibilities, or thrust upon us by a reduction in force or necessary move. No matter the impetus, opportunities surface and deserve our attention and engagement in thoughtful and intentional ways. Making the most of a career transition is a new chance to lead, no matter your new role or title. The right combination of honest self-reflection, expanded self-awareness, setting an intention to grow, and doing the work of developing and executing that plan for growth is all that is required.


cultivating leadership growth during transitions

Leadership can take many forms.  Meaningful leadership manifests itself over the long term as the positive influence of others.

Leadership can take many forms. Meaningful leadership manifests itself over the long term as the positive influence of others. To re-emphasize, “leadership” is not a job title or rank. In fact, there are many examples in today’s world of people who hold significant, powerful titles or roles but who are undeserving of the label of “leader.” And on the flip side, there are individuals without large organizations or recognizable titles that are showing up in ways in which they are without a doubt “leading.” They are making significant inroads to positively influence others in big or small ways all around the world.

Words, aligned with actions in context are key.

For each of us, our words and actions and intentions got us to our present state. Context and congruence matter. Influential leaders who sustain the test of time are highly adaptive and agile within the context of each situation. Unique or stressful times are those in which they often excel the most. Self-aware leaders feel stress like the rest of us, but it is how they respond, adapt, communicate, and engage with the world around them that makes them different. Influential and effective leaders tend to speak and act in ways that are grounded in character traits like open-mindedness and curiosity. Character traits, including integrity, responsibility, forgiveness, and compassion in CEOs as measured by their employees, were shown by Fred Kiel’s research to not only make for higher employee satisfaction but also to drive a measurable difference in return on assets. Leaders earning top marks in these character traits do so by demonstrating a congruence of their words and actions. They garner and sustain trust from their teams and those they influence.

When our actions are in line with our words, we not only begin to see a difference in how we influence others in our workplace relationships; we see a difference in all of our relationships.

I can tell a colleague that I care about their success and that I value our professional relationship. I can even go a step further and “high five” them on social media when they reach a new milestone as it crosses my various social media feeds. However, it is what I “do” in our relationship and my motives – self-serving or other-serving – that will determine the influence I have with that individual. The actions that I take can either substantially amplify or substantially diminish the integrity behind my words. What I say and do combined with the sincere motivation behind my words and actions either build trust or destroy it with another individual. And it is through establishing and sustaining trust that positive influence and leadership magic can begin.

Maximizing your leadership capacity during career transitions.

During the next few weeks, I will be rolling out a series of posts as well as an online course for individuals who are going through or planning to go through a career transition.  I invite you to stay in touch by subscribing to this blog or following me on Instagram @lumenstrategies 


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