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Tag Archives for " leadership skills "

Circle of hero leadership insanity

Looking for leadership

What leadership are we looking for?

Looking for leadership. Is it too soon? Can I dive in? Have I mulled through my thoughts enough?

Emotions (deep, raw, grief-filled), mine, family, friends, and my network aired over the last 17 days.

 Should I wait until after the next wave of heat and wind that could leave more devastation?

I think it is time to dive in. It is time to look in the mirror and have a good think.  If not now when?

One of my graduates put a comment on social media last night that suggesting that it is time that Affectus (my company) develops and delivers a leadership program for all politicians entering parliament. Wouldn’t we love to. I wonder who might attend?

Now to the questions that have been racing around in my head for months, if not years;

Leadership questions

  • What leadership are we (you and I) looking for?
  • What about the globe?
  • What happens if we continue to elect those who work from the hero leader model?

The hero leader model

The hero leader is an oft-used term, but in this opinion piece it in no way refers to any of the amazing people who have been at the frontlines of Australia’s current bushfire crisis.

Dan Forbes talks about hero leaders here.

I have such strong evidence about shared leadership and how it works that sometimes I find it challenging to keep listening when others are speaking.

Then I remember the first part of great leadership is to listen. And so I stop and listen and sometimes I don’t speak at all. As painful and confronting as it is – I listen.

Imagine if what we observed in our leaders was listening.

The problem is that the hero models say that we have all the answers, so listening is limited because answers are at the ready.

Back to the question

With so much anger, pain and distress swirling through much of our nation I wonder whether it is time to think through the question “What leadership are we looking for?”

What are you looking for?

I read and listened as commentators and social media erupted with the words “We need strong/clear leadership”.

But what leadership did you want? This day, this week, this month, this decade? 

I think the challenge may be that we need something different at different times and situations. 

The challenge of leadership

Which leads me to my initial thoughts. 

When Victoria caught fire and I realised a number of my family were trapped in Mallacoota, I probably needed something different to you.

This is the challenge of leadership.

This is the challenge faced if we hold onto the concept that leadership is about one hero, one leader, rescuing us.

They can’t be everywhere. 

So, how can leadership work if we need different things, for different people, in different places (physically and psychologically)?

I believe that is the gift of leadership. Leadership is not about one person. It never has been. It is about the collective.

And yet, we have set up a system that seeks only one person, placing us in a difficult position.

Please don’t get me wrong or read this as some soft concept. I actually think reconfiguring our understanding of leadership is really hard. 

All things to all people

What traditions do we have to rethink?

We have to review our need for a hero leader. Someone who will be all things to all people.

This person will, incidentally, often be the same person we will attack and blame.

This “all things to all people” person doesn’t exist. They don’t. Think about sports leaders, world leaders, leaders of businesses and companies.

If we continue to believe in this hero leader model (and through that thinking continue to place a single person on the top of the pile), then we have to accept their:

  • Ordinariness
  • Inabilities
  • Vulnerabilities
  • Limitations.

Because they are us.

Really, they are us. And we all know that feeling when we are put into a space that we are completely seen – warts and all.

If we want to avoid going around in Einstein’s circle of insanity (and I know that there is some speculation about the validity of this concept) of thinking then we need to be brave enough to say leadership is not about a hero leader. Leadership is about me and I need to step into my space and be the leader I need. 

Circle of hero leadership insanity

I have also read lots of commentary about what we didn’t get during this time of national need. So, I am going to really stick my neck out here and have a go at what might have been useful.

What might have been useful

  • A sense of “We are aware and this is what we are doing”. Strong, informative communication - did you get that?
  • A demonstration of “We are not in control but we have skilled people working on this critical disaster”. A sense of honesty but steady hand – did you get that?
  • “We are listening – we won’t talk because we need to hear you”. A sense of empathy and vulnerability - did you get that?
  • “We have not got this right. This is what we have been told”. A sense of reflection – did you get that?
  • “This is our way forward and these will be the steps”. A sense of understanding – did you get this?

A clear picture of leadership

When I think about those questions and more, I get a clear picture of leadership.

It's many people stepping into a leadership space.

I believe this, not the hero leader, is the truth about leadership.

As I ponder my questions further I sit here in my office, knowing that tomorrow and the next day, and the many days after, will be dangerous days in my part of the world.

I know that many people have sacrificed so, so much.

I understand that sections of my part of the world will possibly never recover.

But I do ache for leadership. A new leadership where we all understand (including those at the top of the hierarchy) that someone should not feel compelled to be our hero. Instead it is about us stepping into that leadership space that we all see.

What leadership do you want?

More importantly, how can we build a leadership style in our community that saves us from a hero leader who can never do it all?

The power of pressure on the lever – a bit of physics fun

As we move through “graduation season” at Affectus it is a great time to reflect on “what next” for our graduates.

We spend time discussing how to leverage the life-changing, new-direction-setting leadership experiences to courageously alter your world for the better.

Our facilitators ask people to make a commitment and to publicly state what they are going to focus on now. And we remain committed to continuing the conversation about leadership leverage.

I have found it helpful to sometimes blend my first career as a science educator with my passion “leadership learning” and in the case of leadership, I head back to Physics 101.

Leverage is all about the effort and moving a load to a new place.

Now I am not going rabbit on too long with my physics lesson. I wasn’t actually very good at Physics but I did understand the simple seesaw lever concept. But it is valuable to think through the concept of levering within a framework that makes sense. That is, a plank on a fulcrum with pushing on one end to change the position of the opposite end.

What next?

If you have been part of a leadership program or experience perhaps you have had the option to build teams and take action during the program. And reflect on the process you have developed and tested. Perhaps you have also had an opportunity, toward the conclusion, to future-gaze and consider what next – for you and for your passion.

I have often thought when I have completed life-changing activities – so what next and where to now.

This is where leverage comes into its own.

But let’s think it through. It is at that point, that point of “I could do anything”, that point that your effort can be most effectively used. How can you make the most of this moment? There will be more just like it. But there is something extra exciting about the energy we carry with us as we leave a leadership program.

Here is my thinking…I wonder what you think?

Affectus’ Leadership Leverage

Step 1 – Understanding Effort

Work out what it is you are wanting to shift. What do you want to change? We could call this a “change plank”. Then you need to consider how to use the plank to get others to move.

Step 2 – Clarity about Effort

Get clarity about your affect. Talk it out. Test your thinking. Hone it to a refined concept.

Step 3 – Understanding Effort

Understand the personal effort you will need to put in to create the change. What time is required? What skills are needed? What is the necessary knowledge?

Step 4 – Group Effort

Relook at the effort and consider how to increase that effort by bringing other people in. People who understand the change that you are hoping for.

Step 5 – Build the Fulcrum

The fulcrum is the pivot point on which the seesaw sits (a simple lever). I like to imagine the fulcrum as all the additional people who will understand the change needed as we share the need. We need to consider who might these people be and where are they. Then we can share the idea and bring them together.

Step 6 - Position the Fulcrum

I see the people who we share the change with as a coordinated collection putting their combined hands under the “change plank” at just the right point – close to me or a distance away.

Step 7 – Effort Applied

And then our team (from Step 4) begin to put downward pressure on the plank and the opposite end of the change plank is raised to a new height.

Outcome

I know, I know, it is a bit clunky. But, it is about understanding that when you work with a group on an idea you have a strong combined effort that will overcome the resistance and lift the load. By gaining support from a wider group of others this will assist to raise the load. And this group, in a strategic place, means the lift will be even easier and the load at the opposite end will be raised.

Work on the power of your leverage.

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