The Cost of Growth

-Guest blogger, Barb Egan, retiring VP of Finance and Administration at Woodward Academy in Atlanta. Woodward is one of the largest preK-12 independent schools in the US.

This week, we are excited to share with you a story from Barb Egan, a former client decision maker who has become a friend of the Lyceum over the years. While observing class-after-class of leaders from Woodward experiencing growth with us, she began engaging herself. As a part of her own growth journey, she shared her story with us, and we want to share it with you.


“You were absolutely right that I had to decide whether or not to go forward.

When you first sat across the table from us and described Level 5 leadership as servant leadership, I thought I might break out in a rash before I could get out of the room. Somehow I thought whatever my next steps would be, it would look like bigger-badder-better Barb. Servant leadership was not what I was expecting–probably a product of NO psychology or sociology classes. At that point I was resolved not to move on, but to work on bigger-badder-yada-yada-yada.

Going through the Growth Gap Tool several times finally got through to me, and I began to consider what it would take for me to be a transformational leader. I could evaluate the cost and make my decision–or so I thought. While some of the cost of moving to self-authorship is apparent, what I discovered was that most of the cost was hidden and would probably not be apparent in one big revelation. In order to move forward–if I wanted to do so–I would have to go in pretty blind and have faith that I could handle each step. It was clear that the first part of the cost was to let go of a lot of wonderful creations that I had made in my self-authoring stage such as: a) not always proving I was the smartest in the room; b) forgoing intimidation as a tool for most interactions, c) diminishing the importance of efficiency and effectiveness–hard, hard, hard for me.

All of this runs so counter to what I had established in my own self-authoring mode. Sometime in the second half of 2012, I made the decision to move forward. I’m even almost comfortable with it, although I still have a few moments of “what in the heck are you doing?!” One of the important steps of moving forward towards a long-term development goal is to get “it” out of my head and share it. This seems so easy for some people, but for me it always seems like a huge risk, because it risks the core of my being. It makes a part of me, which is currently important, so very public.

So thank you for the role you have played, along with my coach, in helping me to get to this point. And thank you for listening.”


As Barb has learned, growth comes at a cost—like writing what you’ve just read, but don’t things of great value always cost us something? What will taking the next step in your development as a leader cost you?