Your 2017 Leadership Story

Many of us pay more attention to our new year’s resolutions than reflecting and writing our leadership story from the previous year. Reflection and storytelling are fundamental to learning and growth.  So in the spirit of my year-end reflection blogs, I thought this year I would share my own 2017 story with the hope that it might facilitate the way for some of you to write yours.

When I founded my company Philosophy IB in 2000, and up until 2016, it never crossed my mind I would transition from owner to employee again. My plan was to retire as founding partner of Philosophy IB.  However as life has it, due to circumstances beyond my immediate control, it became clear that the wise course of action was to tender the company which I loved and put everything I had up for auction. It was a bittersweet experience for me as we had entered one of the most difficult industries (management consulting) and in competition from many of the biggest names, built a model 50 person boutique practice with amazing talent, incredible products and services, and devoted clients.

We finally found a great suitor in Heidrick and Struggles. However, like many of you, I went through the cognitive and emotional change cycle. I had to adapt to a mindset of proving myself all over again in a new environment. I felt enormous responsibility in seeing our talented and loyal staff land safely in the new organization and helping them adjust to the culture in ways that allowed them to be present to opportunities for growth. I had to let go of clients, projects, and methodologies that I had invested enormous time and care in developing and adopt a new ones. I had to adjust to multiple people weighing in on decisions that I could make myself prior to the sale.

From the start, I declared these principles to follow:

  • Be kind to me. Recognize the challenge, do my best, and learn from it. Let the universe take care of the rest
  • Don’t allow workplace challenges to affect my personal relationships and take care of my physical wellbeing
  • Start with love and care. Assume positive intent and allow my new colleagues to respond in kind. Believe this to be right course of action even if some do not.  In so doing, try and follow the golden rule. What would it be like to be on the other side of my interactions and how would that feel?
  • Do not play politics and be transparent with my thoughts and motivations. Admit mistakes and take on feedback with gratitude
  • Believe that the universe has a plan uniquely designed for me and there is no one else that has my exact physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual composition
  • Pick a leader I highly admire. Put their picture in my office and regularly ask what he or she would do in a similar situation. For me by a large margin, that leader has always been Nelson Mandela (those who visit my office will notice a large portrait of him)

I firmly believe that any leader going through change should spend time to compose an aspirational set of principles and values. This does not mean that you will always follow them. There is no doubt that there were occasions in 2017 when I slipped. However, these principles are an effective way to measure your days and weeks, notice the gaps, reflect on barriers, and come up with ways to address these gaps.  For those of you who have executive coaches, this is a gift to them and their work.  Coaches love to work with your principles and values.

As I write this blog, I believe I have navigated the most challenging parts of the transition from being a co-owner of a successful boutique consulting firm to a partner in a global consulting organization. The work will obviously continue in 2018 and based on feedback to date there are a couple of areas that I need to focus on. However, I have found the mindset of non-attachment and surrender to be liberating and enriching.  These are the ingredients

  • What do I want really— if I was having a drink with myself?
  • Are there opportunities in the current environment that can be connected to my wants? Am I present to them?
  • What is it that I can control, and what is it that will only lead to frustration (at least for the foreseeable future)?
  • How much of my time and energy is spent on each?
  • Once I have done my best regarding above, to what extent can I let go and allow the universe to take care of me?
  • Who will I surround myself with to help me through this process?

I want to wish you all my incredible, amazing, generous, and wonderful readers the best that the universe has to offer in 2018.  I encourage you to allow the right side of your brain gain equal footing. Trust your creativity, trust your intuition, and trust those that come your way with a mission from the universe to help you achieve your destiny. These Gurus have unique cameo roles to play in your lives. Recognize it and allow it to happen.

With love and deep appreciation – Kaveh


Questions for Online Conversation

  1. What is your leadership story for 2017?
  2. What did you learn from it?
  3. How does it segway into your 2018 story?

About Kaveh Naficy
Kaveh is the leader of Heidrick and Struggles executive coaching practice in North America. Kaveh focuses on working with leaders placed to make transformational and creative changes in their organizations. Kaveh has a proven record of success in harnessing the strengths of these leaders to achieve accelerated business solutions. He is able to create significant insights through reflective thinking, presence, and disciplined follow-through. Executives who have worked with Kaveh say that his strengths are his deep insights into the realities of the current and future business world, accelerated scanning of the environment and competition; creative out of the box thinking, and leveraging the collective intelligence of their teams and creating the organizational culture to support and foster the appropriate organizational design and strategies. They also point their deep trust and personal connectivity with Kaveh, his coaching approach, and style.

One Response to Your 2017 Leadership Story

  1. Kathi Love says:

    Kaveh- I always appreciate your writing because it makes me think and I learn something. But, for me, this has been your very best blog because it was personal and allowed me to connect in a very way. Thank you so much. Kathi Love

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