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Leadership Moves for Liminal Times

Delivering value now while simultaneously creating the next way

What do you do when the strategies that have gotten you to this point in your life won’t get you to where you want and need to go next?

In your work, your relationships, your parenting — it’s inevitable that you will at times find yourself in such liminal (in-between) spaces. At these moments you realize that your methods and habits no longer serve what you really want – and that you aren’t yet clear about which new and different methods will.

Right now we are all in such an in-between moment together as a global community. The design of the collective “train” that we have been riding on for more than two centuries is rapidly shortening its own track by exceeding the limits of nature.

And the ways we will work and live in the future are not yet clear.

More and more people are being forced to, or are choosing to, look out of the windows of that train to see and reckon with current reality. Some are stepping off to see the true state of our planet and of Life today. It can be heartbreaking. But that clear-seeing heartbreak is the place from which new possibility arises.

At Genii Earth, we enable and ennoble leaders who envision a “next way,” in whatever domain they work, so they can do the highest value work today to bring that next way into being.  (For a broader Genii Earth perspective on the leadership skills needed now, see Leading for Our Future.)

So what does effective leadership look like during liminal times?

Here are seven liminal leadership moves:

  1. Begin a process of reimagining how your organization can create value in new ways and by new methods that are consistent with the wider world you want future generations to experience. We are entering an exciting time of innovation in service of our collective futures.
  2. Liminal periods can be disorienting. Provide coherence and stability for your teams, not by leaning on old structures and methods, but by creating a shared adventure of common purpose, clear relationships and work approaches.
  3. Value both the development of new systems and mindsets that support a thriving future for life and the decommissioning of those systems and mindsets that don’t.
  4. Learn to cultivate whole-heartedness, not just in the traditional “all-in” sense of the phrase, but by building team cultures where the “whole” of life is held in the heart of the enterprise and its community members.
  5. Liberate the collective wisdom in your organization from the confines of old patterns. Once your colleagues see clear purpose and are enrolled in creating a new way, they will be tremendously rich contributors for how to get there.
  6. Learn to embrace the many paradoxes that you encounter, such as the simultaneous need for both incredible urgency and incredible patience.
  7. Finally, as a leader during this liminal time, learn to experience different types of rewards for your work. Recognize that your visionary work is serving a longer arc of time than the current quarter, the current year or even your career. Even as you create value for today, take time to appreciate yourself and your teams for doing work that is resonant with the long view and that will positively serve people you will never meet.

What leadership qualities do you see are most useful in the liminal times we are in? How are you bringing your teams and partners along with you to meet the opportunity and calling of this moment?

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