Leadership in Action - OUTACT MATTERS!

"Inact": The Inner Wiring

Thinking and feeling are inner-actions or "inacting" that triggers different processes inside a human body and mind. Our beliefs, perspectives, biases, barriers, assumptions, or say our lens through which we see the world is wired in our brain and informs the actions of our inner-selves automatically. It is the most fundamental process that takes place between human beings and their world. For example, you might see a dog as a pet and naturally feel happy. At the brain level, the moment your eyesight and other senses interact with a dog's (pet) presence, your dopamine and oxytocin levels go up! What that means is that your brain creates a desirable state for you by supplying you with a sense of finding "your thing" (that you like or love) along with a sense of "trust" between you and the dog automatically. The brain will perceive no threat, whatsoever rather give you a rush of love and friendliness.

For someone who associates with a dog as a ferocious animal, the inner-actions will work quite the opposite and the feeling of fear will trigger in immediately.

While we can definitely temper feelings and emotions, we can not condemn them. Condemnation will take the authenticity away from us.

It is worth knowing and realizing that inacting does not dictate how we behave or how we interact with the outer world. That's the only thing that is in control of every person - how do they choose to behave.

Leadership has a history of more than hundred years and most of the leadership literature has focused on the inner work that every person must do to transform into an ideal leader. It always has been the inside-out approach. Is there something wrong with it? Absolutely not! Does the transformation has much more to it than just being the inner evolution? Absolutely yes!

"Outact": The Outer Sensing

Outact is a term that I had coined a while ago during a conversation that I had with a colleague. It stuck with me since then.

Outact comes from two different words - Outward + Action.

What it indicates is to be mindful of what's happening outside of you in the present using your senses. It includes skills like having careful observations and situation sensing in relation to people's behaviors, changing environments, changes in expected behaviors or skills. It is also about being mindful of what you need to unlearn and learn something new beyond what you are good at today or always have been.

The other part of outact is "act". Once you are in touch with the outer environment, it is time to act than keep analyzing in your head about what should you do. We are living in 21st century, fast-paced, high- expectation environment, where results matter and to drive results, adaptive leadership matters.

In essence, outact seems a little counterintuitive when it tells you to act than think first. Mostly, every human being would like to think things through and then act. 

But remember, leadership development works a little differently since it involves developing and adapting to new behaviors. As per research-driven adult learning principles, human beings learn 70% through experience, 20% from social interactions and only 10% through formal learning. It takes about 45 days to adapt to a new behavior. 

This means till the time you don't practice a new behavior, you won't start seeing the expected changes. Too much of inner evaluation can lead to analysis-paralysis. As you strive to get into new behaviors, accept bad feelings for those first 44 days instead of letting them change your course. Your brain can be a contraption - don't be stuck.

You can only expand your leadership capacity and capability through actions and not just thinking. For example, take up a project to see how many team members are you able to manage, instead of just thinking and guessing about the numbers. Setup a meeting with a colleague in another department and have a conversation about how your work aligns with them. Make your relationships strong and expand your network by taking those actions. Actions drive success!

"Inact" or Outact" - What's right for you?

Both the terms, "Inact" and "Outact" are gestalt in the context of leadership. In simpler terms, they are part of a unified whole. 

In my experience, study and practice of talent and leadership development, I would relate this to Pareto's Principle that states, "for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes". As I translate this principle to leadership development, I would recommend focusing and acting on those specific key behaviors to see a significant transformation take place within you. Do your situation sensing, be mindful about the unlearning and act. That's majorly the outact.

Keep reflecting as you process your actions against the expected results. That's the inact. Make continuous changes until you hit the spot. This does not indicate that you have to operate irrationally but it does mean that you need to mindfully act and adjust often. Remember to go beyond what worked in the past. What got you here, won't get you there! 

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Sahil Sharma
Talent & Leadership Development Professional | Leadership Coach

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