The concept of character arc in leadership

Characters in (good) movies have an arc. An arc simply means the character starts out one way and then, in reaction to experience, changes. The key to an arc is the concept of change.

As it goes for fictitious characters, so it goes for us. Each of us is on an arc of some kind. None of us will remain the same. Feels like it should be common sense, but many of us, in our leadership roles, mess it up.

Seeking the kind of comfort that comes from stability, we unconsciously hold our team members and our team in static state. Han Solo in the Carbonite. But it never has worked and never will. Each of us is on an arc.

The better response? Consciously work with each team member to discover what they see as their arc. What do the years ahead look like? What does success look like? What is motivating them? When we truly understand the concept of arc, we can better tune the work over time so it matches up with their journey.

Yeah, it’s a lot of ongoing work, but that’s kind of the deal, isn’t it? #leadership

by Jonathan Wilson

Jonathan is the Head Coach at Sandcastle Company, a Seattle-based leadership training organization. His first book, Future Leader: Rebooting Leadership to Win the Millennial and Tech Future [link], is now available. Jonathan regularly writes and speaks about The New Leader Way, leadership resilience, and the future of work. He has years of leadership experience in both the public and private sectors, a master's degree from Seattle University, and professional coach training from the University of Miami.

Filed under: Leadership

Published on May 30, 2019

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