What are the critical factors that constitute a true, powerful leader? Is it being able to execute effectively? Is it creating an environment in which people feel empowered, safe, okay to take risks, be independently responsible? Is it to shake up the status quo, and take a bold and powerful stand for a future that wasn’t going to happen anyway? Probably all of the above.

Disruptive Leadership is being willing to stand for something that has not yet been tested, tried, proven, or even thought through… creating a future that wasn’t going to happen on its own.

So what is disruptive leadership? According to many thought leaders of today, it includes some of the following components:

  • Possessing intellectual curiosity
  • Demonstrating a fierce competitive nature
  • Having a thick skin
  • Being willing to truly innovate (which includes taking bold risks, being willing to fail)
  • Leading with vision and business transformation at the forefront

Many articles are written regarding leadership qualities that set true leaders apart. In a recent article in the CEO.com, “Distinguishing Qualities That Define True Leaders”, additional characteristics are identified, among them:

  • Commitment
  • Humility
  • Authenticity
  • Compassion
  • Being of service
  • Self-awareness

What does Disruptive Leadership look like and how can I begin? As a jumping off point, author and speaker Soren Kaplan created an acronym with five simple steps: LEAPS

  • Listen
  • Explore
  • Act
  • Persist
  • Seize

According to Kaplan, “disruptive leadership requires embracing the unknown and ceding control in favor of the opportunity to gain new insight or uncover opportunities.”

Disruptive Leaders create a conscious, purposeful, intervention or disruption of the “drift” or predictable, incremental future that lies ahead.

To forecast or predict the future, where we typically look is in the past – what have we done well and how to replicate that…what have we failed at and how to avoid that. So the future becomes an extrapolation of the past, of what’s already been done, perhaps packaged in a new, shiny, ribbon to camouflage the familiarity. Disruptive Leadership focuses on where you are going, not where you have been. They think from the future.

How do you measure up against these facets of leadership? To be a disruptive leader who can envision an uncharted future is to be willing to listen keenly, question assumptions, explore unproven possibilities, take bold action, be relentless, and create leaders all around you who are willing to do the same.

Are you ready to be a Disruptive Leader?

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