If you’re an intensive leader of an expansive organization or group, you have some unique challenges.
The biggest one is hooked to the most ancient part of their brains:
You are likely to scare them.
Your fast pace and intuitive leaps are likely to leave them feeling surprised and unprepared, and they don’t respond to surprises with excitement and engagement.
They respond with fear.
That fear is likely to generate resistance: contractions, skepticism, anger, and their own expansive brand of stubbornness. They are likely to turn to rules, regulations, and rigidity to help them feel safe.
That’s likely to make you feel frustrated, but worse, unheard and misunderstood.
You’re likely to double down and dig in, explaining in more detail why your idea is awesome.
They will respond with more fear.
None of this is good for anyone, and it’s not good for progress or innovation either.
In the end, it can damage relationships and the trust necessary for leadership.
So what can you do?
1. Establish a buffer between you and the rank and file. This is for your sake as much as it is for theirs. Get together an executive team, board of advisors, Mastermind, or crew of smart friends. When you have a great idea, go to them first. There should be one high tolerance expansive (an expansive who likes hanging out in intensive spaces) in the group. Get them to help you strategize about your announcement. Think of it as a pitch, because if the organization isn’t on board it doesn’t really matter how perfect the plan is.
2. Backlab. My mom used to talk about scientists who invented methodologies and data to fit the results they wanted as “backlabbing”. In science, terrible idea. In intensive leadership strategy? If you have expansives, it’s one of the only ways to get things done.
You know this thing has to happen intuitively. You can feel it. It is so strong the idea feels perfect and irrefutable. Only you know they’re going to resist, argue, have doubts. Figure out what the doubts are likely to be and figure out why your idea is logical (key word logic) in the face of those doubts.
Explain your idea as if you arrived at it by deduction and ordered thinking. Start with what you intuit to be true and work your way backwards into the reasoning that an expansive person would use to get there. Lead them through that process, down that smooth path.
(not the series of rock-hopping intuitive leaps you took. They will just twist an ankle and blame you.)
3. Get a few leaderly expansives on board and get them to back you up when you share your idea with the larger group. It is likely that your organization is already a little skeptical of you and all the slightly uneasy excitement you bring. If they see someone else that they trust, whom they feel understands them, saying it’s ok, they will likely feel less threatened. Threat response down, creative and open thinking up.
4. Create predictability and routine as often as possible. Send out announcements on a schedule. Be available on a schedule if you can. Give people some warning when a change is coming. You might be impatient but they need a chance to prepare. Give them consistent, positive feedback. Allow some buffer time between upheavals. Assume any change is an upheaval.
5. Recruit a high tolerance expansive to be your assistant. I cannot say this loudly enough. Listen to their suggestions. Get them to help you with consistent and longitudinal follow through. You will be tempted to hire an intensive, because they “get” you. Don’t. (See rule number 7)
6. Keep yourself busy while the system absorbs changes. Announce something for six weeks out, then give them time to adjust. Meanwhile, go work on something that will keep you busy.
7. Remember they love you (and you love them). Figure out what their love language is and try to speak it as often as possible, reminding yourself what to look for in their signs of love.
7. Finally, and very important: get your need for recognition and celebration of your intensiveness met elsewhere. An expansive company is always going to be a little nervous about you even if they love you. Make sure you have a group of colleagues or friends who can celebrate you and your brilliance (you are brilliant) without hesitation or reserve. In other words, find or make a place that’s full of intensives. Soak it in and return it in kind. Be joyful! Be excited! Be all the way you! …and then figure out what’s going to work best for your people AND you, and bring that to work.
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