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Transformational Leaders Embrace the Confusion Zone

Cathy Garland
Posted by  Cathy Garland  on May 5, 2020 9:15:00 AM
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As transformational leaders, we can see the silver lining of a crisis: breakthrough. Where are you and your team, in the High-Performance Model For Innovation (aka the Transformational Process)?

Transformational Process Graphic

In the process of the High-Performance Model For Innovation (also known as the Transformation Process), we can easily see that, as a nation, we have been catapulted out of the Comfort Stage, herded through the Denial Stage, and now stand squarely in the Confusion Stage. I don't think any leader I talk with in any sector is under any delusion that "things will get back to normal" or that things are "under control" or that we don't need to adapt.

In Higher Education particularly, the previous claim of "there's no problem" that I've encountered for the last several years, has evaporated almost as fast as the hand sanitizer.

Every sector sees the need to adapt not only to the current work-from-home situation but also to changed buying cycles, changed budgets, and changed priorities. In Higher Education, the Enrollment Teams will encounter an almost new species of student who has been affected by the lockdown in mental, physical, emotional, and financial ways.

However, as transformational leaders,
we know the priceless silver lining of a crisis is a breakthrough

We can now lead our teams through the Confusion Zone to ask the right questions to find the right answers to innovate through to breakthrough. Now is the time to change the cultures, break free from what has held innovation back in the past, and focus on what truly matters. Asking a team questions about value and getting to what matters leads to positive changes:

  • Shifts in perspective
  • Unification of purpose across an organization
  • Profitable initiatives
  • Innovation and invention


Boldly embrace the Confusion Zone (but don't stay there). Ask the right questions until you and your team find the right answers. 

To speak with one of our experts, contact us.


Cathy Garland
Senior Consultant

Topics: Higher Education, innovate higher ed, leadership, Coronavirus, COVID-19, transformational leadership