You have heard of servant leadership, even resonant, affiliative, coaching and heroic. But kaleidoscopic? Bear with me…
I think it is reasonable to say that no-one can predict the future, and to pretend to do so is possibly the second sign of madness. So why do we focus our leadership efforts on telling our organisations that we can be sure of the future, setting these certainties into our strategic plans, budgets, KPIs and development plans?
I am sure that when you are a child you had experience of a kaleidoscope at some point. You will have experienced the child-like wonder of turning the lens to achieve ever-changing yet magnificent patterns of beauty.
Your followers need to see the same constantly adapting but coherent patterns in your leadership – helping them to see the messages and patterns without having to predict the future. Confidence comes from knowing you can respond to the change – not knowing what the change is.
Kaleidoscopic leadership helps people tune in to what is changing around them, see the patterns and trends, and as a result determine what needs to change. And to do this for themselves. From confusion to focus with a simple ‘twist of the lens’.
Is this what your followers are seeing? Or are you focusing on trying to direct the show and drive the response to the change. If this is the case, the chances are you are missing opportunities.
The most successful companies in the world right now understand that it is the capability of their team to respond in the right way at the right time in real time that is determining their success.
So the path to success is achieving a rate of capability improvement that is beyond your competitors. Keep the future in focus.
If this makes sense to you and you would like to know more email me at email@example.com, or call on +44 7711 831992.read more
It is startling in some of the businesses that we spend time in how clear the leaders can be about what the future holds, and how confused the rest of the teams are about the real priorities that require attention.
And, of course, in the absence of the facts we make assumptions…
Various studies have indicated that only 15-20% of our people know what the pressing priorities for the business are. So that is a lot of assumptions being made.
Thankfully the solutions are not so complex – and it comes down to the old chestnut of communication. However, this does not mean posters, coasters and wallet cards with mission statements. It does mean managers living and breathing commitment to the same goals, infusing them in everything they do and say until it is impossible for the teams to not understand where we are heading and what is important.
In simple terms people have to be able to articulate:
- Why are we on this journey, and to achieve what?
- What do our customers and stakeholders get from this plan in terms of real value?
- How do we need to operate in order to deliver this value effectively and efficiently?
- What new capabilities do we need to do this better than our competition?
Can organisational culture be changed?
The simple reality of this is yes, but perhaps not in the ways that you might usually expect. Culture change initiatives are often handed (or maybe even outsourced!) to the HR department or maybe even to consultants. Whilst these agents can be useful designers or facilitators of the process of effecting culture change, they simply cannot make it happen.
Studies have shown that culture is primarily influenced by the behaviour, attitudes and decisions of the leaders within the organisation. Therefore consistent, sustainable and widespread leader behaviour change is the cornerstone of any attempts to change culture.
But behaviour change is hard, and this is why most culture change efforts fail. They either focus on the wrong elements, or it gets dropped into the ‘too hard to do’ box.
To successfully maintain a culture change process requires imagination, persistence and focus – if enough momentum and belief can be maintained the rewards are great. Because it is hard to copy, a culture that delivers benefits to customers can give source to a real sustainable competitive advantage which competitors can only aspire to match.
That seems like a goal worth chasing, doesn’t it?
Some very interesting stuff on trust and believability has entered into the conversations that I’ve been having with leaders recently. The question is, what does it take for a leader to be believable and to elicit high levels of trust from those they are trying to influence?
The thoughts that have been emerging on this are many and varied. Firstly, congruence and authenticity seem key. I am sure you have heard the phrase “I can’t hear your words, because your actions are drowning them out”. As leaders, we must exhibit high levels of personal congruence between our actions and words in order for us to appear authentic and consequently worthy of our followers to trust.
In addition to this, people very often believe what it is in their interests to believe. This may sound a little cynical, but I think represents more than a modicum of reality. We must therefore present our ideas, visions and thoughts in ways that are appealing to people. They must see hope for themselves personally in what we are saying, and the message must connect with their values. Otherwise we risk speaking a language they do not understand, or even want to understand.
There is then a whole raft of issues connected with the way in which messages are presented, in terms of body, voice and message that will either reinforce the authenticity and desirability of the message, or create doubt in the followers minds.
Whoever said leadership was easy?
…or rather… generation “why?” and generation “see”….
Much has been made recently about the differences between generation Y (late 20s and early 30s) and generation C late teens and early 20s. It appears to me, and much of the research that has been done, that there are indeed some substantive differences between these two generations, as well as to ‘older’ (sorry) generations. However, as with all things in life, within the challenge lies the opportunity.
Following on from my post on facilitative leadership, I recently did some employability talks to undergraduates in various disciplines. Deploying my usual facilitative style of lecturing, I probed the audience on what they felt the characteristics of effective leadership were that they have experienced. The results were fascinating.
It is quite clear that these younger generations are more responsive to and respectful of questioning, listening and responding as desirable leadership traits. Fascinating stuff. Or is it? Surely it was ever thus…
We do therefore seem to be moving towards an era where subtly different styles of leadership are required that are in themselves more subtle. It is clear that the mechanisms of influence employed by leaders will need to be more persuasive, negotiating and emotional as well as positive and leaving the followers with a wide degree of choice on how they act and what they do.
But then, isn’t this the leadership style that you would want to work for? So have things really changed, or are younger generations just less compliant and tolerant… and how are we going to rise to the challenge?read more