STRONG AND STABLE-DOORS – ‘Leadership’ lessons from June 8th

It was an exhilarating shock, wasn’t it?

The election was a moving Rubik’s Cube of influences and happenings that will take ages to understand, and be the subject of very erudite papers for years to come.

Yet one of the influences was very visible.

Leadership. Oh.

The derisive summary of decline ‘May-bot to May-hem’ was too good to resist.  Yet when thinking about Leadership, mayhem is usually better than robotic control.  The Tory campaign was about anxiety – or rather the defense against anxiety – that demanded a tight control over everything.  This anxiety, felt by many in high profile positions, is the unconsciously feared gap between the hero and the real human being.

You’ll only buy into the hero story if you believe that you are working with some sort of ‘system’, a system that needs to be re-engineered. And it takes a hero to see what needs doing to the system. (The system can’t be trusted). So bolt all the doors, batten down the hatches, and reinforce that solitary, heroic, hero-ness.

There is no system.

Organisations, companies, electorates are all messily organic, constantly changing, complicatedly interactive assemblies of human potential.  Leadership is much more effective if conceived as sort of corralling and re-purposing of a constant stream of the changing results of these interactions.

In a way, an organisation is the changing results of constant interaction.  So where does this leave the isolated hero-Leader?  In need of some double-quick help and tips.
5 emerge for me from Mrs May’s in-front-of-our-eyes implosion.

1) Visibility. The system model is attractive because you can stay outside- untouchable, aloof and all-knowing. But in the real world you must get stuck into that messy mass of human creativity. Be seen everywhere. Listen. Become ‘necessary’.

2) Stimulus not response. This is a melee of conversations, right? When we speak to each other we don’t parrot the response we expect. The old example is that of the comedian. The audience really won’t believe your repeated assertions that you are funny. Tell some stonking jokes however, and they will deduce that you are hilarious.

3) Variety. Diversity. Surround yourself with as many different personalities, styles, ages, stories and experiences as you can. Practice (playfully?) taking the opposite view yourself.

4) Experiment. Keep moving and keep trying, while not knowing what the result might be. Now that truly is heroic.

5) The present before the future. Ask ‘what are we doing now’ over ‘what should we do’. Without a real and honest read of what’s going on now, of current experience, then yesterday’s (unexamined) models and theories and thinking will just be re-applied endlessly and uselessly to new emerging challenges.

And you’ll keep missing the really important stuff.

Ah, the sound of a stable door banging shut.

It’s about time for a Rubik’s cube comeback, isn’t it?


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