Photo by Kent Meister
Working as a part of a shared leadership team has impacted my life in more ways than I had expected. If you have read any of our previous articles on our transition process, you already know that it is a lot of deep work moving from a hierarchical model to one that is non-hierarchical. Figuring out how to share power is kind of a big deal. This type of deep work is transformational, not just in how I show up at work, but in how I show up in life.
There is a version of working where one shows up at the job, punches in, works, punches out and goes home. There is also the overwork version where one gives all they have, but the job may not give back – fairly extractive. But what if our work environment encouraged our inner transformation?
The process of figuring out how to share power with my 5 colleagues has undoubtedly changed me for the better. It has been a process of self-discovery, calling for greater vulnerability, clearer communication, and radical trust. These skills aren’t just useful at work. I have been given more and more opportunities to practice these new skills in the rest of my life. One gets better with practice. I have found an increasing ability to accept conflict as opposed to avoiding it. A large part of the process has been in making the implicit explicit. So often things can default to convention simply because of how easy it is to go along with what is implicit. Going along with what is implied doesn’t require speaking up, no conscious communication skills needed. We can just keep quiet accepting that “this is just how it is”. Decisions in a hierarchical system often work this way. A boss can “ask” you do something, but the implication is “do it” even if that’s not what’s intended. Not completely unlike how I can say to my kids, “Can you do the dishes?” The work to clarify, communicate consciously, and name what had been previously implied allows everyone to show up differently. This same process is now being integrated throughout my life and I am a better person for it.
In a shared leadership environment I have been able to explore what my needs are and how to express them. I am learning how to speak openly from these places and allow myself to be supported in ways that I previously did not.
This transition process has been one of care and mindfulness, held with a lot of intention and willingness to look at what lies beneath. I think it would be impossible to engage in this and not have it impact one’s life. There is a regenerative quality to working like this…an acknowledgement of the fact that how we are in one place impacts how we are in another. None of us, regardless of the job, can just punch in and out and leave everything behind. Work isn’t so neatly separated from life. It occupies too many hours in our lives. But maybe work can be regenerative and give back by transforming who we are.