As leaders, we are living through a scale of change and challenge we are unlikely to experience again for a generation, if not longer. Like it or not, we will not be returning to the way we were leading and operating as we wished one another a ‘Happy New Year’ on our return to work in January this year. 

We’ve been catapulted into a season of radical change. To make it even more disruptive, it’s a type of change of which we are not the architect. Long range plans may still have a role to play but in reality we can see no further than a few weeks ahead – and even that is with a high level of uncertainty and just a small amount of confidence. Many of the traditional way-markers by which we have navigated have either become invisible or irrelevant. ‘Norms’ and familiar ‘fall-back’ options we held onto are no more. 

We can view these changes and challenges like an endless range of mountains that are just too hard to climb – “Well, maybe I can make the first peak, however after that I’m not sure and it may well all get too much and I won’t have the stamina to continue”.  I lived close to the Peak District for many years and loved walking. I remember walking up Mam Tor which is like so many peaks where you see the peak ahead and think you are reaching the summit, only to realise when you get there it’s not and there is another peak to be conquered and then yet another one before you reach the real summit! 

Alternatively, we can embrace these changes and challenges as a fresh opportunity to stretch ourselves, to grow, to build on some of our established strengths and to develop into new areas, rather like working muscles we haven’t used for a long time. 

“That’s all very well,” you say, “but just how do I scale these peaks when my familiar way markers are no longer visible? What sort of climbing gear is going to help me?” I suggest it’s the climbing gear that is embedded deep within us. Putting it another way, it is the values we hold as precious and that define and drive our moral compass and our motivations. 

As we come to understand more about our values and take off the shackles that prevent us living them out, it will give voice, expression, character and colour to who we are as a leader. What is inside us begins to come out and gives us a dynamic framework from which we can lead and navigate. It is literally becoming an Inside Out Leader.  

As Inside Out Leaders who are truly living our values, as we climb to greater heights of achievement we are better able to understand the meta-narrative of our journey. Questions such as: Where have I come from?; How did I get here?; Where am I aiming to get to?; What impact would I like to make?; How can I realise my unfulfilled dreams?; What legacy would I like to leave? and many others, all have the space to breathe and come to life.

As Catalyst Thinking Partners, nothing warms our hearts more than to see leaders stretch toward new goals with clarity, confidence and conviction. We encourage our clients to be embracers of change and challenge and we see our role as enablers to equip leaders as they journey forward. We believe this is only possible if leaders are able to unleash the power of the values embedded deep within them – truly becoming Inside Out Leaders. 


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