How Disruption Can Improve Your Leadership - Proteus Leadership
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How Disruption Can Improve Your Leadership

It’s easy to sometimes slip into a mentality of ‘comfortable shoes leadership’ where the comfort zone takes over as the business benchmark. Usually this comes after a period of stability, when things are going well and moving along quite nicely. It may feel like you are breathing easy, but ultimately, this is not going to end up as a success story, for you, your profit margin, or your team.


Because this is leading at the level of the average. It’s inward looking, beige leadership that ultimately leads to a self-propagating disaster. You see beige leaders lead beige companies and eventually these beige companies find it difficult to compete with new players entering the market. They lose customers and market share and the struggle ensues to attract, recruit and retain talent.

Eventually, you are overtaken by the disruptive leader – the leader who has the growth mindset, who focuses on the positive of change, the one who has the bigger picture endgoal in their sights, the one who refuses to put themselves inside the status quo-like box of ‘no thanks’ when it comes to outside thinking.

The leader who asks the questions:

  • What’s next?
  • Where’s the risk?
  • Who is innovating while we aren’t?
  • What new technology is around the corner?

Disruptive leadership may sound harsh to some. It certainly isn’t anything to do with ‘average’, or the status quo, or any form of comfort zone leadership. But it is about the positive rather than the negative because disrupters have an end-goal vision; they are rigorously reckless, they are invariably entrepreneurial and collaborative and they have their eyes wide open to the possibility of change.

How to make disruption work for you

Be curious and ask why

Questioning and changing your outlook when it comes to ‘why‘ will alter status quo and business opportunity. It will change the impossible to the possible; make an inventor into an explorer. Questioning ‘why‘ can remove roadblocks to business direction and potentially assist with navigational clarity. ‘Why’ helps us understand a situation as it stands and how to improve the present for the betterment of the future. Without constant curiosity and questioning, doors to the future remain firmly slammed shut and the lens of opportunity become blurred.

Stand up and be counted

Stand in your spotlight, use your voice and don’t be afraid to emphasise your strengths as a leader, what you bring in terms of value, your point of difference and equally have the courage to ask for the help and the support needed to create the change you are looking for. This is about having the self-confidence to back yourself; to think beyond the small square of now, in whatever industry or sector you sit in and constantly wanting to reach further and understand more.

Be leading edge not bleeding edge

Become someone who thinks about business with a leading edge, not a bleeding edge. Think with agility, not lethargy – because taking an approach in business where it is just about you and not your team, or your coworkers, is a lazy approach. To include others in the decision-making process can be challenging but the rewards are even greater. Create new discussion opportunities and it will take you further than ten short sharp barked out e-mails ever could – or will.

Build your bank of intelligence

Appreciate the value of an ‘Intellectual Bank‘, the value exchange and the possibilities of what it can bring to business. Teach each other something you previously had no knowledge of, build the intelligence bank by embracing the strengths and skills of others around you and as a result create more opportunity to influence others and to disrupt current thinking.

Diversify your circle of influence

The seed of disruption and new thinking occurs with difference of opinion, shared insights and learnings. Review your network and ask yourself do you need to diversify, expand your connections, do you actually need to de-layer the ‘cup half full’ thinkers that limit ideation. The cross-fertilisation of connections, skills and brainpower and the ideas that are openly discussed and shared through network creation, in their turn create new opportunities, innovation and new solutions to existing problems.

Take a moment to look at your own business area or, if applicable, your own business. Where are you tolerating average thought and average leadership – from yourself, and from others? Where could you be disrupting that thinking? How could you be collaborating more, thinking better, leading change, involving your team in the leadership process further? Where can you and your team be disrupters?

How can you give yourself and by extension your team, the confidence to engage and overcome the fear of the future and break the barrier of average? Answer these questions with honesty. Stop hitting ‘snooze‘ on your leadership alarm clock. Because it’s time to wake up… and change!

By Janine Garner
Published with permission from the International Institute of Directors and Managers (IIDM) –


Proteus Leadership is one of Australia’s premier leadership training and development companies. Proteus Leadership provides leadership courses and management training to a range of industries and assists organisations to build positive workplace cultures, implement change and Create Great Leaders. Proteus also facilitates a range of world-class management courses, workshops, conferences and events across Australia and beyond with the sole purpose of bringing leaders together to connect and grow.

“Our core purpose is to Create Great Leaders that will in turn build Great companies and develop Great teams.”