It’s a new world today; the forces of globalization, the advent of social media and the rapid expansion of interconnection have changed things dramatically. The global economy and its associated business cultures are constantly being disrupted by new technologies, global crises and - not least - because of radically enhanced access by individuals and communities all over the world who until recently were excluded from influencing events.
These are the key characteristics of the New Normal in the Age of Volatility. For more about the Age of Volatility and the New Normal please see http://www.heroichearts.ca/site/Found_Assumptions_Model.html and see the video where I speak about volatility at www.heroichearts.ca (“Watch the Video”).
This new world calls for a whole new understanding of leadership. A masterful leader in today’s world is one who can co-lead, who can engage in a fluid dance of inspired collaboration, bringing the improvisational talents of a jazz musician to the constant flow of choice.
The Five Capabilities of Leadership
Let me be clear – when I use the word “leader,” I am not referring merely to the titular head of a team or group, I am referring to anyone who is able to exercise the Five Capabilities of leadership, from anywhere in the organization:
1) Picture: Seeing a Shared Compelling Future;
2) Foresight: Anticipating Disruption and Discontinuity;
3) Presence: Offering the Best Self with Transparency;
4) Collaboration: Enabling Effective Teams/Groups through Authentic Connection;
5) Community: Influencing Beyond Organizational Boundaries.
Gone is the lone hero pointing the way forward; this quasi-military model is far too narrow. Leadership matters: a one percent change in a leader’s behaviors has exponential effect. So leadership is a key element of meaningful organizational change, whether in improving safety performance or in pursuit of any other demanding goal.
Leaders Strengthen Individuals’ Commitment
In most organizations, employees function on a continuum between compliance and commitment. Compliance can be enforced through rules, procedures, threats, bribes. But compliance has serious limitations. It is rarely if ever associated with innovation, breakthrough or exceptional performance.
Commitment, however, knows virtually no bounds. Most forms of organizational capacity, power, and competitive advantage are generated by commitment. But commitment springs only from emotion, from the heart. It can't be coerced or legislated, and it is a reliable predictor of consistent discretionary effort.
Relationship is the Essence of Leadership
The shift away from the lone, heroic leader implies a kind of collective leadership among groups of people inspired by a common picture. There is always someone taking the lead – dreamers, inspirers, drivers, supporters – anyone who shares the inspiration may step up and lead when the circumstances call them forward.
A Leader Succeeds through Enlistment:
Enlistment is a relationship skill in which individuals enlist others to act in support of an invented future.
As more and more people in the organization declare their commitment to the possibility, the organization takes large strides forward. The skill of enlisting is more about sharing than selling, and more about discovering than presenting. Extraordinary Leaders are highly skilled in enlisting others. They are also skilled in coaching others to do enlisting.
So now leadership is about having individuals continuously enlist each other.
In this context the key to successful change is each leader and the choices that leader makes - the choice to engage, the choice to commit, and the choice to share their perspective with others. Leaders create networks of thought, energy, and commitment that drive organizations.
There is an abundance of leadership models and theories. Why are we giving voice to this? Why is so much attention paid to leadership and yet no easy way to produce great leaders has emerged?
The top four leadership challenges are self-awareness, interpersonal relating (including listening skills and empathy), exercising influence and leading in times of change. The capacity to grow these capabilities is rooted in self-awareness and self-responsibility. It takes more than merely seeing them as good ideas – it takes the hard committed work of self-development, self-transformation.
It is through the Five Capabilities that leaders foster the relationships that transform organizations. I will expand on these topics in subsequent blogs.