Values can be quite confusing, and more to the point they’re pretty useless unless you know how to action them in your decision making process.
Whilst being interviewed I was asked what traits make a good leader. It reminded of an exercise I do on the Mercenary to Missionary Leadership retreats.
Scientific philosopher, Thomas Khune, stated that ‘advancement is not evolutionary, but rather a series of violent revolutions and in such revolutions one conceptual worldview is replaced by another’. Khune called these revolutions in worldviews ‘Paradigm Shifts’
As I was explaining the universal life cycle to a client yesterday, the pandemic was a useful example of the latest paradigm shift. Every decade or so, we experience upheavals because shifts happen. As much as we’d like the world to be certain, it seems that the second law of thermodynamics regarding entropy of systems always comes to pass.
A shift is when the world as we understand it suddenly stops working and we go into some sort of emergency event. Examples of shifts I’ve experienced are 9/11, the Great Recession and now we’ve got Covid-19 and the fall-out from that in terms of second and third order effects are yet to be fully realised.
Right now, the pandemic has disrupted our lives and business behaviours but it is also an opportunity to create new beginnings. Winners of the present paradigm however, are not very good at accepting reality and adapting, especially when it comes to giving up power, status and wealth. So, it is vital that whilst the incumbents are wrestling to maintain the status-quo, that we get busy challenging, connecting dots and creating a brave new world.
There are three responses:
- You can create some new ‘things’ to do.
- You can stop doing some things.
- You can recover and adapt whatever you were doing before.
However, in the recover and adapt stage, one has first to recognise and understand why something collapsed in the first place. Then work out what you need to do to make that ‘thing’ more resilient, valuable and sustainable.
Whilst we might not want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, it will be necessary to adapt otherwise you head into the realm of ‘lessons are repeated until they’re learnt’.
When that happens, the weak point will become more difficult to recover in the future. Moreover; lessons are repeated more often and cost more resources often leading to a slow death. How long organisations bounce up and down from collapse to recovery and back again, depends really on how much money they have to waste.
A better response if you don’t feel adaption is going to be beneficial is to indulge in some creative destruction, get rid of the old and create something new.
Archimedes said, ‘give me a lever long enough and a strong place to stand, and I can move the world’. Well the lever is leadership and the place to stand is humility.
With humility the word leader transforms from a noun to a verb. Leading is something that ordinary people can do to leverage the potential within other people, themselves, a team or a situation. With simple rules of behaviours amongst a group of people comes synergy, where the whole becomes more effective than the sum of its parts.
The following leadership Superpowers are really simple, the challenge for most ‘so-called’ leaders today is having the humility and compassion to want to be great leaders because most are ego-centric as opposed to eco-centric. There are plenty of great leaders out there but unfortunately their results and efforts are overpowered by ego-centric power brokers who maintain the status -quo.
The world needs great leadership and effective teamwork at every level and every corner of the world right now, if we’re to tackle the enormous challenges which have come about by ego-centric leadership that has run rampant supported by delusional ideology and institutions which condones selfish behaviour.
The five leadership super powers:
Listen and clarify: This requires cognitive intelligence and it is a skill which requires the leader to engage in focussed listening, summarising and questioning to ascertain more of the details.
Recognise and reward: A lot of people complain that they’re not recognised at work and in some of their closest relationships. It is often why people may move on from one organisation in search of more rewarding pastures.
Nobody wants to be a widget in the machine, especially since the social contract which kept people subservient in the Victorian era, has been shredded. An effective leader utilises behavioural intelligence to recognises people’s efforts when they’re doing good work and rewards them for their efforts.
Enquire and empathise: This requires the use of compassion and emotional intelligence. With this you enquire how a person is or a team is and you try to intuit how they are feeling so that you can understand their situation more clearly. Often this will mean listening for what isn’t being said, understanding the whole person and what’s going on in their life outside of the organisation, so you can support them.
Challenge and champion: Leaders should be constantly looking for ways to improve the structure and challenge the status-quo. It requires the use of social intelligence to see how the team are operating, the lines of communication, the informal networks and also looking outside to learn new ideas that can be assimilated into the organisation, team or individual. It also involves creativity to come up with new modus-operandi, products and services and then champion those ideas so everybody gets to hear about them.
Knowing what to do and when: Lastly, the leader needs to exercise situational awareness. This includes being self-aware enough to understand their own skills and what they may need to practice more of, but also a leader needs to be able to determine when and which Leader Superpower to exercise to optimise the situation.
See below the video for a PDF download with some notes to help you understand this material. Download the notes then listen to the video as this would probably be the best way to understand the content.
New to all this self videoing so b with me while I learn the skills! 🙂
Some of the top takeaways included:
1. Good leaders look after the people first
2. Don’t stare at the fire, look for opportunities
3. Top behaviours of effective leaders: emotional intelligence; learning agility; humility; courage
4. How they lead: engage with their teams; align them around common objectives and goals; evolve if things change; practice radically open communication
5. Leaders often cannot escape the storm so they must be able to create peace and tranquillity within the storm to allow them to think clearly and make great decisions. The SOAR model is a way to slow down the reactive thinking process and induce a creative interlude in which higher order thinking is possible:
a. Suspend snap decision making
b. Observe the problem
c. Allow wisdom to percolate up
d. then Respond quickly
6. Promote positive behaviours by adopting a HERO mindset. So be: Helpful; Effective; Resilient; and Optimistic.
There were many more top tips he had to share which can can watch in this video.
Whilst this is not a definitive step by step guide, it will cover some basic principles and points to think about when leading your team through a challenging period.
The first thing to remember is that people are not very good at responding. Sure they’ll react to an immediate danger, but won’t acknowledge a danger that’s approaching slowly. Read more: here
I came across a discussion on twitter which alluded to the fact that the world was becoming more complex. This discussion was based on the ideas of General Stanley McChrystal, author of ‘Team of Teams, New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World’.
“Efficiency remains important, but the ability to adapt to complexity and continual change has become an imperative.”
I remember feeling irked about this statement and the reason for this response, (apart from having man-flu at the time) is that people are acting as if VUCA (the US military term to represent volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) is a new phenomenon. That’s not correct, the world has always been subject to volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. Ask poor people.
Read more: Here
“The biggest paradigm shifts happening right now are ironically the increasing awareness of the existence of paradigms…”
Paradigms are a worldview shared amongst a group of people so they can experience group identity
and achieve a common purpose. Our world is governed by them very much like seas influence the
life of a fish.
Examples of paradigms include the idea of countries, money, religion.
They are a set of beliefs, values and stories which enable collaboration with greater numbers of people and even with people living different locations. It is our ability to use paradigms that enabled us to climb to the top of the species hierarchy.
One monkey left on a deserted island might survive more ably than one person might (unless he’s Bear Grylls). But if you put one hundred people on the island, then they would organise themselves more effectively than the monkeys.
But there are a few problems with paradigms…. Read More