Iterative Cycles: The Spiral Staircase of Awake Leadership

Leaders have ongoing responsibilities, periodic responsibilities, and short-term projects. There’s constantly a need to manage the ongoing tasks as well as integrate and filter tasks and projects from the workflow of the team. Because of the dynamic (and exciting!) nature of work in a company or organization, the volume of work fluctuates and content changes often. It’s important for leaders to stay organized and know how to handle the ongoing responsibilities while also having the ability to quickly add and filter work from the workflow for the team. How do you respond to change? How do you keep getting a little better each day? How do you track your progress? What is your method for managing the ongoing work your team contributes as well as the improvement projects, new expectations, and business changes that arise?


Cycle:a series of events that are regularly repeated in the same order” or “a complete set or series

In Awake Leadership, you begin by making a Vision Plan with your team’s current tasks and objectives. As you move through the Awake method, you work on the team foundation, the execution of the ongoing tasks, and the team culture to make the work more efficient and enjoyable. You begin to work smarter (not harder) on those ongoing tasks. The cyclic nature of the Awake Leadership method allows you to continue to check in on your leadership vitals to keep the team productive and enthusiastic but also allows you to execute the tasks with more ease and enjoyment.


Iteration: “repetition of a procedure applied to the result of a previous application, typically as a means of obtaining successively closer approximations to the solution of a problem.”

Periodically, you’ll return to the Vision Plan and realize you need to integrate new objectives and changes into your Vision Plan. Some projects may stay a part of the Vision Plan for a long time and some may stay for just a short period and get filtered out. It’s important that the method be both cyclic and iterative. If it’s only cyclic, then you may be going around on a hamster wheel with all of your work, doing the same tasks over and over everyday, every week, every year. That’s okay for some cyclic tasks that stay in the Vision Plan for a long time. It’s important to have some purely cyclic tasks because we need to be consistent and sometimes there isn’t a need to change how we’re doing something if it’s optimally accomplishing the objective. However, what about new tasks, improvement projects, and, of course, just aspiring to do something new and aspiring to reach a little higher? Iteration makes the Vision Plan grow through learning and through incorporating changes and improvement objectives.

Returning to the Vision Plan means you have a benchmark to gauge your progress, some relativity. You iterate by looking at the past Vision Plan, reflecting on what you’ve learned since making that plan, and intentionally updating it to improve the work and integrate necessary changes from the business or your team’s feedback. As you periodically return to the Vision Plan to align with the team and reflect on your progress, you’ll learn something new with your team that makes your work and Vision Plan clearer and stronger the next time around. This is the blend of cycles and iterations: maintaining consistency while improving and making new, exciting progress with each round. Be consistently amazing.

As you climb the staircase, you’ll build on what you have learned and build on the progress you have made toward your mission as a team. You’ll build your tool belt as a leader and your team will learn and develop along with you. You’ll gain knowledge and experience to improve your work and you’ll feel more at ease. The confidence you build while improving the work with each round is empowering.

When do you reach the top? Well because of physical limits and the limits of an 8 x 11.5 piece of paper, the Awake Staircase you make in the guidebook represents just a few of those iterative cycles. However, the number of rounds is up to you. A leader’s journey is never done… until you say it is. It’s never a perfect. It’s an evolving practice.


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