Last month the Thunderbird blog featured Dr. Carla Rotering’s honor of a Healthcare Heroes Lifetime Achievement Award from the Phoenix Business Journal. The story she tells about living the early years of her life in a boxcar which was repurposed into a cozy home reminded me of the value of repurposing. And it got me to thinking about repurpose in a broader sense than physical recycling.
When I first retired from full time employment I worried about my purpose. Who would I be if I wasn’t a (fill in the blank)? Where would my worth and value come from? I knew those were questions that others anticipating retirement were facing too, so I decided to process the issues and gain perspective by writing a blog called Re:Purpose. Before the blog ended someone suggested that I concern myself less with the actual purpose, and more with repurposing the skills I had gained, applying them to the new areas of my life waiting to be discovered. Repurposing . . . applying or using something in a fresh new context.
Hmmmm. . . How about repurposing leadership? What about the nature of leadership itself. . . freshen and broaden the concept to include everyone in a business or a community or a family as a leader, not just those with the traditional leader title. Do we not all have some voice to offer in the direction of our lives?
And then there is the practice of leadership. We can apply “old” leadership practices in a new setting, in a new way, or with a little makeover. Whether it’s retirement, a new job, a new city, or even just a new office, the “new” about it signals the opportunity to think differently and bring the old, updated maybe, into the new. Recommitment, whether to the fundamentals or to the purpose itself, is another way of refreshing. Perhaps the very process of repurposing can lend a new perspective or help refuel some missing enthusiasm.
Here are some tips to apply the idea of repurposing to leadership.
Self Assessment: What leadership skills do you have that can be carried into a new arena?
- Holding a clear vision
- Inspiring others to achieve the vision
- Communicating clearly
- Identifying undeveloped potential in others and supporting growth
- Modeling tolerance, even comfort with, ambiguity and conflict
How could you make your leadership skills work even better in a new context?
- Gaining additional education to refresh and update
- Working with a mentor or coach
- Adding to your toolbox by identifying the skills of exemplars that you would like to develop
And where might your refreshed leadership skills be put to new use?
- Have you always dreamed of owning your own business?
- Perhaps there is a local non-profit whose vision and mission appeal to your values and passion. Maybe they are looking for a board member or volunteers.
- In your own family are there new opportunities to apply improved and thoughtful communication? Are you the parent of a struggling teenager who needs direction, but is unable to take it from you? There might be other ways to guide them, perhaps other adults who could step in and encourage and support. Your leadership does not have to be doing it all yourself, but recognizing the need and working to meet it in the best way for your teen.
- How about offering or developing yourself as a mentor, coach or consultant?
In today’s environment we hear so much about recycling, reusing, repurposing, etc., as a way of optimizing what we have and avoiding waste. When I think of repurposing, I also think about it as a recommitment to purpose. It could be that the bigger change is not in what we do but how we think. Remembering the why in what we are doing and why it matters and has meaning can help us approach our lives feeling refreshed, energized and re-purposed.
Thunderbird Leadership Consulting and Boxcar International want to remind you about our 13th Annual Leadership Summit on November 15th, in Phoenix, Reconstructing Leadership: Owning Our Power. Join us for a day where we explore how we deconstruct the messages that limit us and embrace new ways of being and doing, reconstructing leadership.
Leadership is perched at a frontier, with our classical model dissolving as new and bright ideas – our ideas – emerge within us, around us, and right before our eyes. We are caught holding on to an established gold standard while yearning for something different, something innovative – more aligned with the world we inhabit with all of its changes. Now is the time for a new construction for all of us who lead, aspire to lead, and yearn to lead from right where we are.
For more information, and to register, click on the link here.