noun. disturbance or problems which interrupt an event, activity, or process; an act or instance of the order of things being disturbed.
2020: the year the world stopped. The year everything we knew changed. The year our lives were disrupted. The year the ‘order of things’ was disturbed. The year that everything that was certain became uncertain overnight.
Synonyms for disruption include: disturbance… disorder… interference… upset… interruption… unsettling… confusion…disintegration… discord… breaking up… separation… alienation… hostility…
Antonyms for disruption: union… amalgamation… reconciliation…appease… organise… order… compose… sooth…calm…
As someone who loves change, is disruption always a bad thing? Is disruption a negative or a welcome occurrence? Is a disruption always a ‘problem’ or can it be a catalyst? The word seems to be very loaded.
I have decided to embrace and own my disruptive nature. I am a positive disruptor as my friend Jaz would call it. I challenge the status quo through my disruptive thinking, my disruptive questioning, my disruptive conversations. I am a disruptive leader. I don’t cause chaos, although I have been compared to a whirlwind at times…
For me disruption is about challenging what we know to affect change, positive change. It is about innovating and challenging systems and processes to transform things as we know them. Disruption brings a cycle of change, it encourages things to evolve and iterate.
Thus a positive disruption is when the equilibrium, when what we know or think we know, is disrupted intentionally and deliberately.
A good example of positive disruption is the grassroots movement around diversity, equity and inclusion – educators over the last 5 years have taken things into their own hands. The rise of #WomenEd, #BAMEed, #LGBTed, #DisabilityEd and #DiverseEd is an act of disruption. The systems and structures have been challenged to affect change.
So what are we intentionally and deliberately disrupting through our work with the #DiverseEd community?
- We are intentionally disrupting the lack of diversity in governance and trust boards.
- We are intentionally disrupting the lack of diversity in ITTE.
- We are intentionally disrupting the lack of diverse representation in the sector.
- We are intentionally disrupting the lack of diversity in thought leadership.
As a leader I am quite comfortable being disruptive. I am bold as I am values-led and have the conviction of my actions. I am confident in breaking the rules and in remaking the rules. I don’t really have a comfort zone, and I don’t really stay in the safe zone of equilibrium and I don’t maintain the status quo.
For me a disruptive leader is someone who is outward-facing, someone who has a growth mindset, someone who focuses on the positives of change. A disruptive leader has a vision and is strategic in working towards that bigger picture. A disruptive leader influences and inspires others to go bigger and to go further. A disruptive leader breaks through barriers and shows a different journey.
So if you want to cultivate a disruptive mindset here are some tips:
- Be curious – constantly ask why questions and open doors to possibilities.
- Be courageous – get visible, stand up and be counted.
- Be agile – create new opportunities and bring others with you.
- Be influential – exchange knowledge and understanding with others.
- Be reflective – reflect on how diverse your circles are and how you can cross-fertilise your connections and skills.
- Be innovative – get creative and see the solutions not the problems.