Stretching Your Box

“As a leader, you can never really know the limitations of your framework, or your situation, until you push on those boundaries, until you stretch the box.”

We function, operate, interact, and maneuver through a world riddled with systems, networks, structures, and frameworks.  Interweaving throughout our personal and professional lives.  Defining and confining who we are, what we do, determining the direction and actions we take.  Often much more than we would like.

While they permeate our very existence, it can be very easy for us as leaders to feel frustrated by those very same systems, structures, and frameworks.  We can find ourselves spending an inordinate amount of time bemoaning the limitations and confines that these systems, structures and frameworks place upon us.  What we often fail to realize is that the grass is not greener on the other side of the fence.  It might be a different kind of grass, a different type, but no greener.

We all have structures and systems that frame the scope and expanse of our work and leadership.  And while they might be different from organization to organization, they still exist in each one.  When we fail to realize this, we unfortunately spend vast amounts of our precious time lamenting with frustration over the limitations and boundaries of the framework…rather, than determining how to lead effectively within.  Beginning by laying the groundwork to not only lead effectively within those confines, but to expand the walls that frame, surround, and limit our work and leadership.

“Many leaders spend their precious time bemoaning the framework they have been given or placed within…when they should be looking at innovative and creative ways to work within and expand it.”

When leaders become overly frustrated and allow their leadership to be constricted by these systems, structures, and frameworks…they diminish their leadership capacity.  They spend less and less time creating and innovating, with more and more time focused on implementing.  It serves neither to expand the framework, nor does it support their leadership.  For when we fail to expand the walls of the structures that limit the scope of our work, we disable our leadership capacity and relegate ourselves to that of an implementor.

“Most leaders work within a framework, how you maneuver within that framework will relegate you to being just an implementer, or herald you as an innovator.”

Leaders who understand the limitations and confines of the framework for which they find themselves, don’t just look for ways to think outside of the ‘box’…they actively look for ways to expand the ‘box’ itself.  They push on the walls and boundaries that encapsulate their leadership and the work of their people and their organization.

Innovative, creative, and resilient…understanding that pushing the boundaries is not a one time process.  It is an ongoing push, pull, stall, and push again.  One step forward, two steps back.  A never ending cycle and an ever present function of their leadership.

A framework can be viewed from two different perspectives…as a shell to create and innovate within…or as a carcass that traps and smothers our ability and capacity to advance and improve.  Both perspectives reside in the mind of the leader…

Ultimately, a leader will have to choose…to lead or manage…to innovate or implement…to create or contain.  A choice that will ultimately define their leadership, for themselves, their work, their people, and their organization.

The question is…are you willing to stretch your box?

“Real leadership lies not in the managing of what you have…rather, it is moving beyond what you have been given to mold and create something better.”

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One thought on “Stretching Your Box

  1. Pingback: What does our future hold? » Superintendent's Blog

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