Leading Through a Paradigm Shift

In college, I took a class on “The Scientific Revolution”. On the first day of class, the professor walked in and said, “You all signed up for a class called The Scientific Revolution. What you will learn over the course of the semester is that historians debate every word of that title.”

They argued about “The”: whether or not it was the only scientific revolution.

They argued about “Scientific”: whether or not they were actually practicing science or if scientific advances were even the most important part.

They argued about “Revolution”: whether or not it was truly the massive paradigm shift that the word revolution implies, or if it was actually the same gradual progress that generally makes up history.

Nothing gets academics more fired up than semantics; how is this relevant to you?

Well, the scientific revolution is frequently brought up as the quintessential paradigm shift. In fact, the phrase “paradigm shift” was popularized by the most prominent academic of the scientific revolution, Thomas Kuhn, in his highly influential landmark book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

If the original paradigm shift isn’t quite that, then what of the others?

These days, it feels like we’re living through a wave of “paradigm shifts”. Remote work is a paradigm shift, social media is a paradigm shift, big data is a paradigm shift, everything is a paradigm shift!

Are you worried? Well, don’t be. Most of these big changes we’re facing aren’t really paradigm shifts. They are based on incorrect information, grounded in emotion, or born of groupthink. That’s good news. That means we can rely on time-tested leadership principles to get us through the challenges ahead.

I’m reminded of the 8 behaviors of truly abundant leaders, which I discuss at length in my forthcoming book, The Five-Week Leadership Challenge:

  1. Give Others Credit
  2. Ask for Input
  3. Extend Trust
  4. Coach Others
  5. Share Ideas
  6. Connect People
  7. Meet Unspoken Needs
  8. Listen More
This week’s tool and video are designed to help you exhibit these 8 abundant behaviors. The tool is an old favorite; the message still resonates today. Even if remote work or the pandemic has truly changed everything, those 8 behaviors will still make you a great leader.
Photo credit: @gudguyben