We have been seduced by the thought that leadership means that the person designated as "leader" does something that makes others what to do something too. A corollary of that is that "others" don't want to do anything and wouldn't, if it wasn't for the "leader."
What if that wasn't true? What if, let's just suppose, the "others" really, really wanted to do something. Consider for a moment if you might be an "other," do you want to do something? Do you have dreams and desires? Do you think you just might have solutions to some problems you see everyday? Do you?
So, if "others" do have dreams, desires and possible solutions, what role does the "leader" play? What if, "leader" was a job description, much like teacher, or mentor, or janitor? If "leadership" was a job title, what would the job description look like? Humm, maybe a little like teacher, a little like mentor, a little like coach, and a little like trailblazer, and maybe just a little like scout? Maybe the "leaders" job is to evoke from the "others" their innate abilities, dreams and desires? Maybe the "leader" is really a cheerleader with vision?
That leads to another seduction. "Leaders" often think that that job title means they can now do whatever they want. They have dreams desires and potential solutions that they really, really want to try out. Good on them! What that usually comes with, however, is the whining about the "others." Stories about how "they" don't understand, how "they" won't follow through, about how "they" don't really care and worries that what they do or want to do won't last.
This seduction is most often seen in organizations where the leadership changes about every 4-5 years for top leaders and about every two years for up and coming stars.
Michael Watkins surveyed Fortune 500 company HR Directors and found that executives had an average tenure of 4 years; high-potential managers 2 1/2 - 3 years, he quotes Brad Smart as saying that the cost of a failed executive hire was 15 to 24 times base compensation.
This is expensive in every way. The constant yanking around that happens as "leaders," who believe this seduction, strive to make their own mark, at the cost of the organizations progress. This becomes a never-ending cycle, one that organizations survive in spite of the turmoil it causes.
In some organizations and in many governmental roles tenure is mandated with the belief that change will prevent corruption. This process has become so ingrained that leadership succession is almost mandated in some companies.
Organizations that continually rotate leaders select for those that can "get their way" the fastest. The focus on manipulative power, political cunning, and strong will have more to say about the character of the person, than about their ability to serve and build the organization.
These two seductions create a lazy approach to leadership. It is way easier to try and get your own way than it is to listen and hear what the collective is saying. History is littered with "leaders," including kings and others, who tried to go against the will of the people and paid dearly. It is much easier to frighten and cajole, manipulate and out smart than it is to erase self-doubt, clarify vision and believe in others even when they don't believe in themselves.
We are not taught collaborative techniques to work and play together, we are taught competitive techniques that keep us separate and reinforce the belief that one someone is better than anyone else.
Knowing these seductions and being able to address them is critical as we move into regenerative business practices. The pressing need for organizations to be flexible and resilient, the demand for innovation that is off the charts, all call for a leadership that is skilled in evoking the very best from "others." This kind of shift cannot be done by one person - no matter how skilled and forceful. In fact force is the opposite of innovation as it is an expression of fear, not experimentation, trust or curiosity - all components of creativity and innovation.
The ability to be collaborative, to evoke the best from others and to create a culture of excited experimentation and innovation are the hallmarks of the new transformative leadership and are the new measures of a leader practicing resilient intelligence.
By applying the ‘methods’ nature uses to create thriving ecologies, by acting with each other the same way that the rest of the planet’s life forms interact, by recognizing our interdependence and working to strengthen it, transformational leaders use the dynamics of systems and the Resilient Values Set™ to engage with each other that evoke the best from us.
All of us are seeking to contribute, to grow in service to what is important to us. We want to contribute to the grater good and we want to see the results of our labor create a thriving world, not a desiccated desert, yet when we look around that not what we see. Knowing that nature is both regenerative and distributive surely gives us a clue about how we should behave. The world should be better for our presence. Everyone should benefit from what we do, make, create, but that’s not the case.
There are just two of the fifteen values from the Resilient Values set™ that can make a huge difference in our lives, if we but lived them: Work to Maintain the Health of the Whole, and All actions Create the Conditions that Support LIFE. Think about these and consider who living just these two would impact your own daily life choices.
I’m open for conversation and coaching – contact me anytime: (509) 934-5930 or by email at Bridge2Partnership@gmail.com
In times of difficulty sometimes things take on new meaning. In my Spiritual Practices class I was struck by a new understanding of hospitality. When things get difficult and scary, when things don’t seem to be going my way the need for hospitality just increases. In times of strife hospitality can be expressed by giving people, (the ‘other’ side), the benefit of the doubt.
Nothing can be harder when I cannot imagine how ‘they’ can think that. Nothing can be harder when I know ‘they’ have got it all wrong. Nothing can be harder when I have to wonder ‘how dare they.’ But I’m sure that if I bring curiosity into the situation and wonder, instead of declaring, then perhaps I can be more hospitable to those who seem to think differently.
We are all such unique individuals. The process of individuation by which we learn and understand what makes us not only special but valuable to others can get lost in the individualism that sees ‘me’ as the only important being. In truth, the interconnectedness that this time has made so clear, offers up the importance of the uniqueness of each of us that is manifested in the interdependence that makes our lives.
Sometimes that very interdependence, that being needed, can be felt as restrictive, because interconnection requires small ‘sacrifices’ of self in order to work together. When that feeling of being restricted prompts people to distance themselves from others instead of reaching out in curiosity, then the circle of interdependence gets broken.
Now is the time for me to practice genuine hospitality, to give others the benefit of the doubt. I need to trust they have the same goals even if they approach the situation differently. I need to appreciate being needed and not run from the demands that makes on me. I need to make strengthening that interconnectedness my service. I need to open myself and extend that hospitality to others.
I’ve been feeling a bit stretched lately, running from one meeting to another. Perhaps you can relate? Now, there’s…time, real time, nothing to do, a requirement, in fact, to do nothing. I’ve been taking a breather finishing projects I’ve put off, including house cleaning, and enjoying the refreshing pace of life. It’s not the life I’ve made, but the life I need to live to be comfortable, healthy, engaged. It’s been a time of life, not for money, but for…life.
I’ve been in a transition, a rather fuzzy transition. Now it’s gotten fuzzier, but more interesting. It’s very clear how far from living versus being driven I’d gotten myself. Now I’m reconnecting with old passions and interests and seeing a possible new connection and interdependence of my various parts that I’m going to take the time to explore.
We’ve come such a long way from being in harmony with nature – if we were ever in harmony with nature. Maybe now that the fear of survival from starvation is diminished and the fear of sickness and possible death is striding around nature, with it’s creativity, fertility, and beauty is calling out to be recognized.
I’m a cancer victor and I’m watching a series of reflections by 19 other folks who have chosen to deal with cancer in their own way, as I did, and I’m struck by the love of life they each express. Living is not about existence it is about the love, the joy of LIFE! That’s what it’s all about. Somewhere I seem to have lost some of that. I’ve always done only what I enjoyed doing, but lately I’ve become overwhelmed, burdened by loved projects, but burdened never the less.
For the next four weeks I’m going to explore the values that Nature lives by and how I intend to bring them into robust actuality in my own life.
Working with a coach in these kinds of times can be helpful!
Are you getting depressed by the world? Is the state of our politics driving to to hide or fight everything? Do you really believe that the 'end is nigh"? then I'd suggest that you take another look at what's REALLY happening in the world.
To do this you have to get outside of your box and READ different things. I'd start with books. Hunter Lovins - a person I've followed for decades, has a new book, A Finer Future. You can hear her on a podcast interview done by Y on Earth. To dramatically change your understanding of 'how the world works' try Donut Economics by Kate Raworth.
The angst we are feeling is because what we thought we knew is proving untrustworthy. Things are NOT going as 'planned' or as we think they 'should'. Why? Because the world has changed - it had to because it wasn't working . We have made these changes as we expanded our capacity to use nature's resources, as we learned from each other at a pace that never been seen before via the internet, and as we became interconnected globally through trade on a scale that is also unprecedented. We need to go with the flow or we will be left behind!
It's one thing to have the technology - we have the technology to make the needed changes, it's quite another to get people to actually change! I can't help everybody, but I CAN help you! We can work together to rethink how we see ourselves, work with other others, and organize our businesses. I can help YOU do all of these. Change isn't easy, but it's not as hard as you think, either.