Preface to Awake Leadership
by Hilary Grosskopf
There are many different reasons for becoming a leader. Some people work hard to secure a leadership position while others are asked to step up into a leadership role. Everyone’s experience as a leader will be completely unique. Beyond just a job, assuming the responsibility of a leader can be a transformational experience. Your experience as a leader will not follow a syllabus like you find in school. That is the cool part. However, inheriting a new role within an organization and leading a team can be overwhelming without the right guidance and encouragement.
I joined the corporate world of retail because I was passionate about the products and learning. I started as an intern, became an analyst after graduating from school, then became a manager and, finally, a leader. I became a leader through a series of pretty organic events, though I did step up and ask to be a leader. Why did I want the experience of leading a team? Being part of a team is fun but teaching, sharing, and creating experiences for people are some things I have always enjoyed since I was young. Having the opportunity to do this in an applied setting where I was enthusiastic about the products and to choose who was helping me was like a dream.
When I became a leader, I realized there isn’t a lot of guidance for how to onboard to a new role in an organization and start leading a team. There were many books that detailed qualities of great leaders but I could not find guidance about what successful modern leadership looks like in action. How do I delegate? How do I make sure we accomplish our objectives? How do I keep the team motivated in a dynamic, often chaotic work environment? I needed a solution for how to lead my team so we could continuously align to achieve our objectives.
I started analyzing my team, our scope of work, and the larger picture of what we needed to achieve to take responsibility of the work. I put a lot of energy into understanding what my responsibilities really were, what the team Vision was, and how to lead the team forward in a way that worked for the organization as well as the team members.
While developing my leadership methodology, I also found that the lack of clear direction, creativity, and autonomy within organizations set up many leaders and teams for failure. Team members often felt they didn’t receive enough clear direction in terms of expectations, they didn’t receive enough autonomy, or didn’t feel a sense of connection to the team and mission.
My objective was to create exercises and rituals for my team that would help us align and accomplish our objectives. I also had to find that sweet spot of clear direction and creative freedom for everyone to feel satisfying progress, individual autonomy, and connection. I drew inspiration from an ancient system that had helped me gain a personal balance of structure and freedom in my own life. By practicing specific exercises with my team, we achieved our objectives and progressed individually and collectively. The day-to-day experience was one of satisfying progress, learning, and connection rather than anxiety and forced progress. In this guidebook, I’ll share this essential system and exercises with you.
There are many leadership books and courses out there that offer solutions for more optimal productivity and team building. However, few existing, affordable resources show how – in action – to lead a team within an organization. This is what I offer to you.
There is a need for Awake leaders; leaders that value clarity, creativity, and genuine connections over forced, empty progress and achievement. Successful leaders of the future will work to find the actions that allow themselves and their team members to progress authentically. I hope this system serves as valuable resources for your leadership journey.