Tips for transformation help leaders be learners.
By Giles Hutchins
“At times of great winds, some build bunkers, while others build windmills,” goes the ancient Chinese proverb.
We are in the midst of the “great winds” of economic instability, social upheaval and environmental un-sustainability. Will it be bunkers or windmills that we build?
Transformational times of destruction and re-construction inevitably invoke fear. It takes great courage to break rank from business as usual. The challenge with any paradigm shift is that it requires us to both let go of the old, tried-and-tested ways that are ingrained in our collective psyche and embrace novel, as yet unproven ways of being.
There is a threshold which individuals, organizations and communities need to cross. It takes real leadership to transform a business in such volatile times. Incidentally, the root of the word leadership is “leith” which means to go forth and cross the threshold, to die and be reborn.
A New Norm Of Dynamic Non-Equilibrium
The “new norm” of dynamic non-equilibrium in business requires a shift in conventional management and leadership styles from over-reliance on top-down, hierarchical, risk-based approaches to managing within complexity. This new style of management juggles and combines varying styles and techniques. It encourages bottom-up ideas and thinking to flourish; establishing an all-pervasive values-led work ethic while guiding and coaching.
Complex, adaptive, resilient businesses of the future recognize that change emerges unpredictably, and that over-arching bureaucratic mechanisms no longer assist emergent organizational evolution. The role of leadership is to actively participate in enabling and facilitating local change, by encouraging effective communications with clarity of understanding of how to act and interact.
Each and every one of us plays our part in leadership of the future by helping others to co-create towards positive outcomes.
Leaders Are The Learners
Leaders of the future unleash human potential by instilling trust through authenticity, clarity of purpose and openness to continual learning. Leaders are the learners, the ones who seek “personal mastery” (as Peter Senge puts it) while remaining interconnected to the collective whole.
Leaders are people who understand who they really are, aspire towards greatness and inspire greatness in others (not egoic greatness but soulful greatness). Leaders become teachers, taking time to assist and empower others to lead themselves. The quest for optimal leadership is about encouraging a creative tension — balancing personal mastery with openness and a deep sense of belonging amongst a diverse community of stakeholders.
Leaders first transform themselves and then guide and coach others, creating a safe passage for the followers to cross the threshold. Here are some tips which can be applied by each of us today at no financial cost, but with much benefit to lead in transformational times:
Tips for Transformation: The Seven S’s
A quiet mind helps ensure a successful outcome. Be still and allow the mind to quieten as often as possible throughout the day. From silence the mind is more able to identify the right choices for the road ahead. As profoundly said, ‘the success of the intervention depends upon the state of the intervener’.
Be in the moment. Learn to really listen to yourself and others. The local environment provides vital feedback, “feel” this feedback, tune-in and act/adapt accordingly.
Ensure clarity of direction for the meandering path ahead. What are your instincts saying? What really turns you on? What makes your heart sing? Why are you doing what you are doing? Follow your heart with a clear mind. Allow it to navigate your transformation with passion and conviction; this way successful change is made.
4. Small Steps
Each step provides chances to make positive change happen. We need to endeavour to take each step, each interaction and intervention with authenticity.
Recognise, engage and empower the interested parties. Tensions may be uncomfortable and energy/time-consuming, yet they are inevitable and can help hone right navigation for the path ahead. Through stakeholder engagement, tension can become a constructive force stimulating learning and development.
Transcend perceived boundaries to see the ‘inbetweenness’; the interconnected systems of relationships and resources within and across our business ecosystems.
Problems and challenges abound and the glass can often seem half-empty in challenging times. Explore solutions, the art of the possible; what can be done (rather than what cannot) through solution-creating, collaborating, prototyping and experimenting. Channel energy from fear and worry to the exploration of solutions. This requires courage.