The American author, poet, and psychologist, Bonaro W. Overstreet observed October is a symphony of permanence and change.” Isn’t that so true of life? It’s certainly the paradoxical balance seen in strong leaders and found in peak performance cultures.

This month in the northern hemisphere trees put on a colorful display as they prepare for big weather changes in the months ahead. The flowers and foliage of perennial plants in our gardens die to prepare for winter. Yet the tree trunks and plant roots remain; gathering nutrients and becoming dormant to wait for re-growth next spring. Strong leaders and peak performance organizations preserve core organizational values while shedding old ways and preparing for new seasons ahead.

October, from the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

Another take on this season comes from Emmy-Award winning writer and producer, Mitchell Burgess, “if winter is slumber and spring is birth, and summer is life, then autumn rounds out to be reflection. It’s a time of year when the leaves are down and the harvest is in and the perennials are gone. Mother Earth just closed up the drapes on another year and it’s time to reflect on what’s come before.”

Tomorrow we’re publishing the October issue of The Leader Letter. This compiles all my blog posts from last month. If you missed any or want to review and reflect, here are points to ponder:

  • What expectations do I have for the people on my team?
  • How might my beliefs and expectations shackle me to behave like a prairie chicken rather than soaring like an eagle?
  • Am I fulfilling the needs of my team members for competence, relatedness, and autonomy?
  • Do we have healthy debates, dysfunctional arguments, or avoid discussing difficult issues?
  • Are increasing workload demands along with always-on technology taking control of my time?
  • Is our culture helping or hindering our major change initiatives?
  • Am I a servant leader? Whom do I service?
  • Are we leading a peak performance culture?

If you’re too busy to read and reflect on these key questions — beware. As the Aesop Fable about the ant and the grasshopper getting ready for winter reminds us: we need to prepare for the changes ahead, or we’ll be changed.