Etikettarkiv: Leadership

A 2500-year-old perspective on leadership

With the greatest leader above them,
people barely know one exists.
Next comes one whom they love and praise.
Next comes one whom they fear.
Next comes one whom they despise and defy.
When a leader trusts no one,
no one trusts him.
The great leader speaks little.
He never speaks carelessly.
He works without self-interest
and leaves no trace.
When all is finished, the people say
“We did it ourselves.”
—Lao-Tzu, Tao Te Ching, 17th Verse

Lao-Tzu gives us a 2500-year-old perspective on leadership. Great leaders create an environment where people can lead themselves! They stay in the background, making themselves as invisible as possible, opening space for people to choose for themselves. One leadership option is to use love, but the drawback is that praise of the leader creates dependency to that leader. Another option is to use fear, but the drawback is that the leader’s influence is based on threat. A third option is to make people despise you, but the drawback is that they will defy all that you say and stand for. The best leadership option is to trust and have faith in your people. Then, they will be able to say, ”We did it ourselves.

Related post: Principles for collaborative leadership

How will companies approach the management challenge?

Here is a visionary tweet by Kenneth Mikkelsen on how companies in the future will approach the management challenge. The businesses will:

  • Have a higher purpose beyond making profit
  • Hire people who are passionate about this higher purpose
  • See all shareholders as equally important
  • Cultivate long-term relationships with suppliers
  • Have open doors and be transparent with information
  • Encourage decision-making and autonomy all the way down
  • Pay well, provide excellent benefits and be generous with training/development
  • Volunteer services to the community
  • Narrow the gap in pay

Beliefs influence results

Peggy Holman writes in Open Space Technology: A User’s NON-Guide, pp. 48—50, that different methods can work in a given situation but what matters most are the beliefs of the facilitator.

My belief (and I don’t have sufficient empirical evidence for it to be more than an opinion) is that while method may be one factor in success or failure the beliefs of the facilitator are an even greater factor.

The core beliefs of the facilitator influence their actions and the unspoken cues they send. Are there methods that are better fits in different circumstances? You bet. And yet, I can take the similar circumstances and put different facilitators in them using the same method and get results with widely differing impact. Further, I believe I could take the same facilitator, use different methods and get similar results. I don’t have empirical evidence for this. It is an opinion reached by observation of, discussion with, and reading of comments from a variety of people using a variety of methods. I think what started me down this path was the deep conviction of virtually every expert that their way was the most effective.

My untested theory is the factors involved in success include sponsor beliefs (particularly around their passion for and audaciousness of the desired future, sense of invitation to participate, generosity of spirit), facilitator beliefs (particularly around people’s capacity to act wisely for the good of the whole as well as themselves), and method.

When there is a perception that people need to be led, then they will prove that out. If the perception is that participants will figure things out for themselves, they somehow do.

Turn the ship around

David Marquet is the submarine captain who turned the ship around by treating his entire crew as leaders, not followers. He vowed never to give an order. This is an example on how to release the passion, initiative, and intellect of everyone on the team. The submarine crew continued to do well long after his departure.

Consent & Sochi 2014 gold medals‏

The secret behind Sweden’s gold medals in the cross-country skiing team relays at Sochi 2014 is said to be hard work. I think the true secret is the use of consent!

Here are two quotes (my translation into English):

We’ve basically made the decisions ourselves all the time and then we’ve had a team behind us who have dared to trust our experience and given us the resources”, says Johan Olsson who is member of Sweden’s relay team.

It’s just stupid not to use their knowledge and experience. They also know their bodies best themselves. We are a leadership team that controls the ship, but it does not matter what we want unless the skiers believe in what we do”, says Rikard Grip who is the national team coach.

Samtycke bakom framgången i vinter-OS

Andreas Björkman skriver på om hemligheten bakom Sveriges framgångar i skidspåren vid vinter-OS i Sotji 2014 och citerar Johan Olsson och Rikard Grip.

Vi har fått bestämma i stort sett hela tiden och sedan har vi haft ett team bakom som har vågat lita på vår erfarenhet och gett oss resurserna”, säger Johan Olsson.

Det är bara dumt att inte utnyttja deras kunskaper och erfarenheter. De känner också sina kroppar bäst själva. Vi är ett ledarteam som styr skutan, men det spelar ingen roll vad vi vill om inte åkarna tror på det vi gör”, säger Rikard Grip.

Jag tycker att det låter som om det är tillämpningen av samtycke som har gjort att i stort sett samtliga svenska skidåkare har prickat formen perfekt till OS.


The upside of self-management

Gary Hamel provides suggestions on how unpack self-management in his new book What Matters Now. Why bother? Well, here is the upside of self-management from What Matters Now, pages 223-225:

  • More initiative – people do help each other if given the opportunity, initiative flourishes
  • More expertise – people do take responsibility for the quality of their work
  • More flexibility – people are freer to act in ways that fit best with circumstances
  • More collegiality – people don’t need to kiss backsides when there is no pyramid
  • More judgment – people do make timely and apposite decisions if allowed to
  • More loyalty – people don’t need to move elsewhere when given the chance to grow
  • Less overhead – there is no need of managers telling people what to do

Unpacking self-management

In a previous post I asked (in Swedish) whether management is needed? My answer is yes, self-management, or as I would rather put it, self-organizing. The follow-up question then is how do you enable self-management? Gary Hamel has a number of suggestions in his book What Matters Now, pp. 212—217:

  • Make the mission boss
  • Let employees forge their own agreements
  • Empower everyone – really!
  • Don’t force people into slots
  • Encourage competition for impact, not promotion

What is authentic leadership?

Kevin Kruse summarizes different views on authentic leadership in his Forbes article from May 12, 2013. According to him, most theorists agree that authentic leaders:

  1. Are self-aware and genuine.
  2. Are mission driven and focused on results.
  3. Lead with their heart, not just their minds.
  4. Focus on the long-term.

Inspired by Petra Kuenkel (Mind & Heart) and Otto Scharmer (Theory U), I’d say authentic leadership is to lead from our heart and our deeper intention. You can be focused on results and the long-term without being authentic. Authentic leadership requires an open mind, open heart, and open will.


Leadership lessons from Nelson Mandela

Steve Tappin contemplates and celebrates Nelson Mandela’s legend by listing seven profound leadership lessons that we can learn from him:

  1. Master your meaning and your emotions
  2. Treat the losers with dignity and turn them into partners
  3. Shift perspectives through symbolism and shared experiences
  4. Embody the spirit of Ubuntu
  5. Everybody feels bigger in your presence
  6. Build a sustainable fellowship around your cause
  7. Bottle the dream for future generations

Principles for collaborative leadership

I occasionally see suggestions that business leaders should act more like orchestra conductors. The idea being that you as a leader should guide your business like a conductor leads an orchestra. Well, you shouldn’t!

When asked if the orchestra conductor is a good role model for business leaders, Ben Zander, a conductor himself, answered: ”It’s the worst! The conductor is the last bastion of totalitarianism in the world—the one person whose authority never gets questioned. There’s a saying: Every dictator aspires to be a conductor.” This quote is from Harvey Seifter’s & Peter Economy’s book Leadership Ensemble: Lessons in Collaboration Management from the World’s Only Conductorless Orchestra, page 10. In this book, they describe the eight core principles used by the Orpheus Conductorless Orchestra to consistently bring out the best in each musician.

The eight Orpheus principles are:

  1. Put power in the hands of the people doing the work. An organization’s creative potential can only be fully realized when its members are given the authority to make decisions that have impact.
  2. Encourage individual responsibility. With authority comes responsibility. Instead of waiting for a supervisor, individuals take the initiative to resolve issues as expeditiously as possible.
  3. Create clarity of roles. Unclear roles can lead to conflict, wasted effort, poor morale, and poor quality. Clarity of roles minimizes confusion and ensures that each individual’s energies are effectively focused.
  4. Share and rotate leadership. Encourage everyone to lead at some point. By sharing and rotating leadership, organizations can benefit from the unique skills and experience of each individual.
  5. Foster horizontal teamwork. Cross-organizational teams have wide-ranging individual expertise. Teams with individual and group authority reduce the time it takes to make informed decisions and ensure that everyone works together to achieve goals.
  6. Learn to listen, learn to talk. Everyone is expected to listen actively and intently, and to speak directly and honestly. Successful work requires a constant flow of two-way communication.
  7. Seek consensus (and build creative structures that favor consensus). The group cannot move forward unless its members agree to move together in the same direction at the same time. Seeking-and finding consensus is a vital element in how to get things done. Put clear and effective mechanisms in place to resolve deadlock.
  8. Dedicate passionately to your mission. Passion drives the decision-making. The mission isn’t imposed from above, but is determined—and constantly refined—by the members themselves.

Related posts:
Book Review: The Art of Action
The goal of strategy

Addressing the blind spot of our time

Otto Scharmer shows in Theory U how groups and organizations can develop their leadership capacities in order to create a future that would not otherwise be possible. Here is a summary of his book Theory U: Leading from the Future as It Emerge. The journey through the U consists of seven essential cpacitites:

  1. Holding the space of listening. Listening to others. Listening to oneself.
  2. Observing. Suspending the ”voice of judgment”.
  3. Sensing with an open mind, open heart, and open will. An open heart allows us to see a situation from the whole, while the open will enables action from the emerging whole.
  4. Presencing. Connecting to the deepest source of self and will, which allows the future to emerge from the whole rather than from a smaller part or special interests.
  5. Crystalizing. The power of intention creates an energy field that attracts people, opportunities, and resources that make things happen.
  6. Prototyping. Integrate thinking, feeling, and will in learning by doing.
  7. Performing. Co-create the new with the ’right’ players.

How to confront complex challenges as a team?

I am now reading Leading from the Emerging Future by Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kaufer. Chapter 4 of the book is about the Source: Connecting to Intention and Awareness. Whenever a team, or an organization, is to confront a complex challenge which requires collective creativity, the following stages emerge:

  1. Suspension. A precondition is to stop old habits of judgment and thought, breaking habitual patterns.
  2. Redirection: The next step is to start seeing reality from a multiplicity of views. This requires listening to others.
  3. Letting go: What might happen next, there’s no guarantee, is a profound moment of “quieting” which helps the team to become aware of who they really are and what they are here for. Entering this state allows the team to operate from a co-creative flow.

Reference: Otto Scharmer & Katrin Kaufer, Leading from the Emerging Future, p. 146.

On working in a connected workplace

Jon Husband has been studying the sociology of human social systems and the structures and dynamics of the organizations in which they work and play for the last 40 years. He has coined and defined the term and concept of wirearchy, which is a dynamic two-way flow of power and authority based on knowledge, trust, credibility and a focus on results, enabled by interconnected people and technology. On Leading, Managing and Co-creating in the Connected Workplace Jon Husband writes that:

  1. Customers, employees and other stakeholders are all interconnected, and have access to most, if not all the information that everyone else has
  2. The organization chart usually reflects power and politics in the organization … more often than not, customers and employees find work-arounds to create the experiences that delight
  3. People interconnected by the Internet and software have ways of speaking to each other—and so they do that – all day long.
  4. Champion-and-Channel replaces Command-and-Control
  5. Conversations are where information is shared, knowledge is created and are the basis for getting the right things done
  6. Trust, transparency and telling the truth are the glue that holds it all together
  7. The Workplace of the Future will be more diverse—in terms of demographics, values, gender, race and language
  8. New, integrated and sophisticated technologies are being developed and implemented—and the knowledge workers of tomorrow will be more interconnected than ever
  9. We’re all in this together
  10. There’s no going back to “Normal”—Permanent Whitewater is the New Normal

Connecting to your self is the only way to go!

Behövs ”management”?

Behövs management för att vi människor ska kunna samarbeta? Jag är inte så säker på det, men det beror ju på vad vi menar med management. Jag skriver management i kursiv stil därför att en direkt översättning av ordet saknas i svenskan. Den bild jag har av management är en företagsledning som styr de resurser – människor och maskiner – som finns i företaget för att nå de mål ledningen har satt upp. Är det bra eller dåligt? Måste det vara så? Finns det alternativ?

Jag tror att management är en myt! Det är en myt som skyddar ledningens privilegier och som hindrar de ledda att ta ansvar för helheten. Begrepp som management gör att vi leds in i tankebanor som gör att vi inte kan se saker på ett annat sätt. Jag brottas med detta och söker efter alternativa synsätt och begrepp.

Det mest intressanta jag har hittat när det gäller alternativa styrelseskick är sociokrati. I början av juni hölls en sociokrati-kurs på Ängsbacka Kursgård i Värmland. Det är intressant att Ängsbacka, som kollektiv, tittar på alternativa styrelseskick.

Creative forces of self-organization

After reading We the People: Consenting to a Deeper Democracy by John Buck and Sharon Villines, I have become very interested in sociocracy, a.k.a. dynamic governance. Gerard Endenburg, who started pioneering and applying dynamic governance, has recently written an interesting article about the Creative Forces of Self-Organization together with John Buck. In this article, they discuss the principles and some of the methods of sociocracy in detail. Below are a few quotes from the article:

…the self-organizing process spurs creative thinking and catalyzes new structures and ideas.

…to be self-organizing, a system must meet two conditions. First, the components of any self-organizing system must be equivalent, that is, not controlling each other. … Second, to be self-organizing, a system must have an external source of energy.

The three defining elements of dynamic governance [consent, circles, and double linking] create the conditions needed for self-organization to occur.

Only a dynamic governance structure, that is, one in which all the members are fundamentally equal, fundamentally not trapped in a boss-servant relationship, supports the natural phenomenon of self-organization.

Dynamic governance has considerable unexplored potential for many areas of human endeavor.

Two extremes of leadership

The two extremes of leadership listed in the table below are from Carl Rogers’ book On Personal Power: Inner Strength and Its Revolutionary Impact (pp. 91—92). The leadership aspects listed in the left column are not simply theoretical ideas, but grew out of Carl Rogers’ clinical experience and research. Carl Rogers was a diagnostic-prescriptive clinical psychologist who came to trust the potential for self-understanding and self-direction residing in his clients. Over the years the person-centered approach found new applications, not only in therapy, but also in education and administration. Most notably the person-centered approach alters the thinking about power and control between persons.

Person-centered leadership focuses on achieving influence and impact through shared power and authority, instead of through coercion. The encouragement of people’s self-responsibility and self-direction directly stimulates their engagement, learning, and creativity. However, this is not an approach for the fainthearted. Granting a group pseudo-control is a devastating experience for all involved. Person-centered leadership must, above all else, be genuine.

Influence and Impact Power and Control
Giving autonomy to persons and groups Making decisions
Freeing people to “do their thing” Giving orders
Expressing own ideas and feelings as one aspect of the group data Directing subordinates’ behavior
Facilitating learning Keeping own ideas and feelings “close to the vest”
Stimulating independence, in thought and action Exercising authority over people and organization
Accepting the “unacceptable” innovative creations that emerge Dominating when necessary
Delegating, giving full responsibility Coercing when necessary
Offering feedback, and receiving it Teaching, instructing, advising
Encouraging and relying on self-evaluation Evaluating others
Finding rewards in the development and achievements of others Giving rewards
Being rewarded by own achievements