We often throw out quite a few terms when we talk about leadership:
We spend tons of money listening to speakers, professors, coaches, etc. to become those kinds of leaders. What I’ve noticed over the years are a couple of things:
- We don’t really listen. We mostly agree with what those speakers, professors, and coaches say and conclude “Yep, that’s me. That’s how I do it.”
- We don’t really change, because we don’t think we are the problem.
In “Leadership BS,” Stanford Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer says when he searched for “leadership” using Google Scholar in 2013, he found 2,640,000 entries. His search for “leadership” on Google produced 148 million links. His search on Amazon returned 117,000 entries. When I searched Google this morning (January 3, 2020) I got “About 6,020,000,000 results (0.80 seconds)”. I got “1-16 of over 40,000 results…” when I searched Amazon for Leadership books.
Yet with all this stuff over all these years trying to teach leaders how to be better leaders, Gallup still reports that 66% of working people report they are either disengaged at work (53%) or “actively” disengaged (13%.) How can this be? Maybe the more appropriate response is WTF?
I’m not going to try to “fix” this with this short blog post. What I want to do here is to offer you a device that can help you sort out what kind of leader you want to become and how you can get some help to become that leader from the only source that matters…the people closest to you. Whether family, friends, coworkers, or employees, these are the people who see you when you can’t see yourself. Once you see yourself, then you will find something to change about the way you work and lead. Then, you might want to engage a coach (or therapist) to help you build strategies and hold you accountable.
The foundation of the organization of the future is dynamic stability. Our processes and systems have to be stable enough to allow enough repetitious performance to improve the skills of our people, and dynamic enough to change quickly in response to changes in the environment. That change needs to allow us to achieve a new level of stability quickly or we end up with churn and chaos from constant, unregulated change. After 19 years of thinking about this, I’ve learned the four things that create dynamic stability are:
- Leadership mindset
- Learning organizations
- Team-based work structures, and
- Mutual trust.
The Leadership Mindset
The leadership mindset, though, is the prerequisite for all the others. The leadership mindset has four key components: Vision, Values, Commitment, and Discipline. Together with the mission (which should provide your meaningful purpose), these form the operating philosophy of the organization.
Your vision as a leader, should reflect things that you want personally, and things you want for your work. For you personally, this vision should motivate you to get up every morning and get going. It could be that you want to find the perfect mate, or that you want your name on a building. For a leader of an organization, though, it should be inspiring and motivate action. People should want to pursue the vision with you. In that light, wanting your name on a building seems pretty selfish, so while it might be fine to motivate you, it is unlikely that it’ll motivate others. In short, the vision has to be tailored to the target audience whether it’s an audience of one (you) or many.
Check out the attached vision exercise. 1_Sharing your Vision 2020
Find someone you can pair up with and work through it together, then find a way to apply what you learn from it. I have to give credit to the Disney Institute for the attached. Even though I’ve modified it, I completed the original exercise there in October 2001. I’m still working on it.
If you have any questions, or would like some help sorting this out, give me a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org.