No matter how inspiring the purpose, no matter how brilliant the people, the moment humans start an organization or join to take on something significant, a certain amount of sludge begins to seep in.
Then, one day, we ask ourselves, “Why are we stuck?” and “Why is this so hard?” If we don’t look in the right places, we can spend months and years applying solutions that only make things worse.
In Genii Earth’s work with organizations of all sizes, we have learned that seven factors are almost always at play when leaders encounter stuckness:
- An insufficient relationship with, and a limited view of, the current reality.
- A tendency to attempt to solve specific problems too narrowly, at “the pointy end of the stick,” and not investing the time needed to understand the interwoven roles of the surrounding systems.
- Making technical and systems improvements without addressing the human dimensions—the personal and cultural realities of the organization.
- Patterns of separation, silos, and protective behaviors that keep people from working toward shared purposes and from taking supported risks.
- Resignation that “it will always be this way,” and insufficient evidence/experience to overcome that resignation.
- Lack of a shared sense of purpose and/or a sense of personal and collective agency and responsibility for making that purpose real.
- Over-attending to perceived problems and under-attending to the energy and activity that is already bringing people and purpose to life.
Humans are brilliant, resourceful, fallible, biased, and prone to patterned self-protections and ways of navigating the world. In these times of great possibility and great peril, it’s more important than ever to cultivate our organizations’ immunity to stuckness and free ourselves from it when it arrives.
If your work is too important to let these seven tendencies impede it, it’s time to grow the capacities of your leadership for the times we are in. The good news is that there are proven ways of leading that address each of these sources of stuckness and make us available once again for the work we came to do.
Our collective futures depend on it.
Read more about the capacities we believe will equip you to Lead for Our Future.