Quantum Leadership: A Story of Next Level Leadership in Project Management (Stage-4)
AUTHOR’S NOTE: In this article, we will be walking you through Stage 4 (Mastery), the final stage of The Leadership Model.
Journeying into Mastery and Clarity
“To become a master at any skill, it takes the total effort of your heart, mind and soul working together in tandem.” ― Maurice Young
As we check in with Neo and his team, we see they have gone through significant challenges, changes and deep inquiry as they have progressed from the first to the third stage of the largest project that the Matrix Corporation has ever handled. Recently, during Stage 3, Neo and his team underwent profound shifts in their perspectives and narratives that called into question what each member of the team believed and thought they knew previously about the project and their capacity to bring it forward successfully.
As they enter the Mastery stage, it is no longer about shifting perspectives and narratives. It is about codifying them. This is the stage where people are able to see what is true in hindsight. With true clarity about the what, how, where and why, this stage signifies the end or close of a journey.
In the case of this project, what was unknown and even misunderstood in the first stage of Awareness was questioned and reconsidered during the challenges that presented themselves in Stage 2, the Engagement stage. In stage 3, Neo and his team had to let go of their past perceptions of how things needed to be. In order to develop a new Ownership of what they were creating and building, they had to focus on working in the present and asking questions that aligned with the current needs of both the team and the project. Now, as Neo enters into Stage 4, the Mastery phase, it is about arranging and putting order to the changes that have occurred over the previous three stages.
Reaching the stage of Mastery cannot occur by skipping any one of the previous three stages. It becomes available if you are willing and able to journey from Awareness to Engagement and then through Ownership. Mastery requires the journeyer to have certain key experiences and ask the right questions at the right time. It is essential for things to happen when they are meant to and with full intention of allowing the stages to take place and unfold in order.
Through this process, it is possible to truly understand and reset previously held opinions, beliefs and perspectives, in order to arrive at the ideas, solutions, views and actions that will best develop the desired outcome.
There is a misconception about reaching stage 4 that many people encounter. Mastery is not a final endpoint. It is a milestone in a larger arc of self-mastery and maximum value creation.
In a group dynamic, like a team project, mastery must occur holistically across the experiences and perspectives of the higher tier decision-makers, and also for the various other individuals involved, as well as for the team, as a whole. If you consider the well-known quote by Marshall Goldsmith, “what got you here won't get you there,” you will then see that the journey does not end with Mastery; it simply cycles again into the Awareness stage.
This is an elusive concept for many, because they have begun creating new perspectives and beliefs learned throughout the course of their recent journey from stages 1 to 4. When we look at the Mastery stage from the perspective of our IQ, EQ and PQ, we see, at this point, PQ has stabilized. IQ and what we “know” is expanding beyond what we had known before. And feelings of pride in what we have accomplished and overcome, as well as overall gratitude for coming to a place of completion has our EQ also on the rise. Something to consider is an increased IQ and EQ equates, if left unchecked, to a shift from questioning the narratives to “knowing” and seeing these narratives as absolute.
There is always a fine balance to be had between knowing and learning. Often, people allow their narratives to become fixed, labeling them as “fact” and “truth.” During the journey that Neo and his team have taken together, we see that there have been times of challenge that have led to questioning, and ultimately to new learning and knowing. It is important here to consider that “truth” is subjective to a given perspective, circumstance and time. A truth at which we arrive is understood within a particular time frame that serves a specific perspective for the purpose of reaching Mastery for that chosen lesson, project or developmental stage.
Let’s look at an example. If we started playing soccer as a 5yr old and then didn’t play again until we were 10 years old, in order to play well, we would have to unlearn and relearn what we developed at 5 in order to approach the game from a 10 year old’s perspective.
What is often forgotten is that any given Leadership Journey from Awareness to Mastery only exists for that period of time. Mastery is an ephemeral nirvana. In fact, it is actually the pursuit of mastery that is our focus; a process and experience of working through a constant shifting of perspectives that gets us to a particular essential outcome. Mastery is the process of learning at the highest level of our capacity, not the acquisition of what is learned. The process of learning, questioning and self-introspection is what allows any Leadership Journey to occur. It is not just about IQ and EQ, rather it is the integration of PQ with the other quotients that provides the space for sustainable shifts and transformation to happen and perspectives and narratives to change.
The Mastery stage is usually where the celebrations occur because the uphill climb, for that particular journey, has come to an end. It is when the summit has been reached and you have the opportunity to reflect and see what has been accomplished. For Neo and his team, it is a time where they can look back at all the experiences, changes and learning that has gone on and appreciate what it has offered them. They can see and celebrate their growth and how far they have come, and what they now know because of it. This is an important time of reflection and honoring until the next major project is presented or something suddenly changes with the needs of the current project and the process and journey begins again.
We often hear statements like, “I have done this for 20+ years”. This signifies a fixed narrative and might reflect that there is nowhere further to go on this path. However, as previously mentioned, it isn’t about having the tools and know-how based on what we have done, it is about understanding when to use our tools and realize when we have hit a point where we don’t have knowledge and experience from which to work.
Mastery is not about having tools and knowledge, skills and experience. It IS about embracing how we learn and how we apply ourselves: knowing which tools to use, when to use them, how to stay curious and open to the unknown and trusting in our capacity to navigate it.
During their project management journey, Neo and his team had the opportunity to grow personally (understanding how they each navigate new experiences and learn from them), and also professionally (how they work together in an unknown space, what skills and gifts they have that are valuable to the team and how they communicate and collaborate). It is very easy to think that with the completion of a mastery stage, WE are complete. Yet, as we know in life, and with any project or endeavor, as soon as we close one door, another presents itself. In other words, there is always more to learn, discover and ways in which to grow.
So, if the cycles never truly “come to an end,” then we may question “Can we truly say, at Mastery, we have come to a place of completion?” The answer to that is a heavily nuanced “Yes.” We must, at some point, call the journey complete. In order to be able to build a foundation or a building block to advance to the next level, it is necessary to cement progress. We have to create a foundation on which to build. Mastery is the foundational building block from which to “rise.”
Therefore, continuing to ask questions is not always necessary. At this point in the journey, showing what has been accomplished, classified and created is most effective. At the same time, it is important to consider that future projects or even iterations of the completed project will most likely change from what has been determined and codified now.
Our motto on this can be: “Understand and build. Understand and build…”
If you consider that there is no such thing as winning and losing, there is only winning and learning, this all makes sense. Mastery is but a stage in our journey. It is a part of the overall process. Reaching any stage can be celebrated, however, the real “win” becomes what we experience and learn along the way.
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Over the last 25 years, Vinay Raman has been a leader in the analytics and leadership space. His professional work has included empowering warfighters, in high and national-security situations to make better and faster decisions when in theater. This work has been applied across various agencies like the Department of Defense and Homeland Security, creating greater effectiveness through data and analytics.
When coupled with his experience in helping small and large companies grow, there was one key insight to the success of any organization: people’s desire and passion.
After many years of analysis and experience with Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence he came to a realization that capturing people’s hearts and passions is the true unlock to an organization's greatest potential. He is focused on empowering leaders to unlock their greatest potential as well as lifting their people and employees to their greatest heights. His current company, CAARMO, is a platform that allows company leaders to take action by using their existing data effectively to empower all to ultimate effectiveness. He has even been told by some employees he actually practices what he preaches! (NOTE he is curious as to what their motivation was in saying that)
To date he has personally founded, built or run 6 companies from 15 employees to over 180. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in Mathematics, Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence. He currently resides in North Carolina after 22 years in the Washington, DC area with his beautiful (and smarter) wife and three children.
Hear more of Vinay: The Business Blind Spots Exposed - Podcast