On leadership savvy

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Hints from the WBECS 2017 pre-summit meetings: Carol Kauffman.

On June 13th Carol Kauffman has talked about Leadership savvy.

What do you need to know to be the best Leader?

Her speech has been solid and full of contents. About change, models of leadership, a few advices for coaches to deal with their clients (leaders fronting change) and for everyone, because, as she sais, it all comes down to us.

Volative, Uncertain, Cahotic, Ambiguous world

V.U.C.A is the way she summarized the changes taking place around the world: volatile, uncertain, complex/cahotic, and ambiguous.

Volatile, because changes are shocking. Uncertain, sure, because nothing is predictable anymore, which takes to the difficulty to fix rules; the world gest complex and cahotic to deal with. And, we make decisions knowing that we do not possess enough information and we do not get clear answers to questions – ambiguity, is the wor(l)d.

In the picture, a way she represents the world map!

Stability, Safety, Simplicity and Surety, is what we need to achieve in order to front the VUCA world.

How do we do?

I usually do not like to ask the how questions. Now, let’s assuming that who is reading my articles has already found his/her answer to the why question. You know what takes you to work as a leader, to work for your organization, you alreasy questioned yourself on the value and strenght of your motivation. Then, I can put forward the question: is there a way to pursue the four S?

Becoming ambidextrous and incomplete, Carol Kauffman suggests.

That is: be creative, make hard and soft skills talk to each other, and: do it together with others, let the others complete you.

These contents especially relate to the (MIT) distributed leadership mindset, summarized in the slide below.

The Incomplete Leader

Creativity and relatedness

In the Distribute Leadership model shown above, Sensemaking first of all refers to the ability to build a map of complexity, being able to synthesize all the info into a whole that can be easily read by the others. Secondly, it refers to building the meaning while doing. Learning in a organization is not anymore possibile without the trying and doing on the ground, on a small as well as a large scale level: the leader is called to do it first.

Relating means doing your best to see the other’s perspectives and use it to build and explain your thinking. Narrate, report, describe, outline, make it as much clear as you can. And do it through inquirying the others.

Visioning is not only having a vision but also articulating it, painting it to make it visible to the others, develop their skills and show your belief in them.

Finally, Inventing has to do with innovation as well as a postive way to create climate, encouraging disagreement, being ble to deal with conflicts by trasforming them into occations of growth. It means thinking of new structures and models and being there when they have to be carried out.

What has hit me the most about Carol’s speech has been a very simple but thought-provoking sentence: Change is changing. She underlines that the issue here is not so much that the world is changing and organizations need to work and their ability to front it, but that the Change itself continuosly takes different shapes. It is alway a new Change.

Leadership styles or…?

Ledership models and research have thus changed a lot and in many different ways along time. The first evolution concerned the shift from a task-based style, where the leader was seen as the big man carrying out strategies and manipulating followers to achieve his goals, to a relation-based style, where the relationship with followers is crucial to the performance and life of the organization.

Today, we do not even refer to a leadership style anymore, but to a leader-follower relationship. The leader-follower relationship approach is mainly based on the level of trust that is built along time and on the different ways to express the relationship: from challenging to supporting, to encouraging participation and initiative.

Since the sixties, nothwithstanding the several contribution to the research and the big amount of studies on leadership, it is still one of the most concerning issue in organizational studies.