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Global Business Leaders is a company specialising in leadership, so it’s a fair question to ask what we consider leadership to be?
There are thousands of books written on the subject, including our own, and probably a fair few more to come off the presses (metaphorically at least.)
So, what’s our take?
WE’RE LIVING IN TIMES OF UNPRECEDENTED POLARISATION.
There are topics in the public arena that have become taboo or too emotionally charged to broach. Our recent blog discussed how even the way we speak can create this emotionally charged atmosphere.
Leaders’ use of rhetoric to sway the population has been used from time immemorial but for us it’s not necessarily the sign of a great leader.
The first thing to consider when talking about leadership is what kind of followership you want.
Think about it – you want an unquestioning, acquiescent, powerless followership then your leadership has to be autocratic, hierarchical, and oppressive.
The rhetoric that underpins this has to be:
- Fear-inducing (unless we unite against x we will be overrun)
- Divisive (there are types of minorities/ethnicities who are to blame for society’s ills and that we can unite against); and
- Hyperbolic (how we are the greatest etc. and therefore justified in demonising the other).
The processes that keep the population acquiescent include:
- Stemming sources of independent information (limited access to a wider perspective)
- An omnipresent monitoring of behaviours (deviations from norm behaviours can be immediately noted)
- And a system to swiftly punish or remove any dissenters from the party line.
The first thing to determine when considering great leadership is the kind of followership you want.
As you read the previous paragraph you can probably think of a country or two on our current global stage and certainly some historic examples which fit the symbiotic relationship between leader and follower described above.
Unfortunately we’ve also heard people describe their working environment in not too dissimilar terms. Paranoid, commanding bosses, who limit information, create a climate of fear and get rid of anyone who disagrees with them. These are leaders with a title, but are they great leaders, do they get the best from their followership? We would answer a resounding no!
“The old command-and-control leadership was not the best way to do things – even in the old days. Now, in an age of collaboration, it won’t work. The people-centric, engagement-centric, personal-growth-centric, service-servant based models of leadership are not optional!”
Tom Peters, Leadership Excellence, April 2010
SO, WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE DO WE WANT IN OUR ORGANISATIONS TODAY?
The 21st century organisations we want and need are those that can adapt to a fast-changing environment; organisations that are close to many categories of stakeholders so they can see the kinds of changes that are forthcoming and know who to partner with; they can collaborate across networks and organisational boundaries; they maximise the learning from any situation and don’t take the tried and tested for granted. They are learning cultures in which people have the courage and capacity to innovate and contribute their ideas.
A start-up we know (around 60 employees currently) relocates for a month every year to a new location to disrupt patterns in the belief that a new environment requires stretch, brings learning and growth. This in turn generates greater flexibility and creative problem solving over the longer term.
So it follows that great leaders create the environment where people are able to deliver what organisations (and the planet) need. They harness people’s creativity by allowing a flow of ideas and ensuring people learn faster than the environmental change they experience. They encourage questioning of the status quo and allow the assumption that the best is yet to come. They engender the necessary trust to put mistrust on the table and share information freely and openly. They leverage – making the sum of average people working together equal into brilliant teams. Which means they connect individual goals to organisational goals, organisational vision to the individual. They are the multiplier effect.
THIS IS WHY WE SAY GREAT LEADERS CREATE LEADERS OF THEIR FOLLOWERS.
Followers who take responsibility for where they’re being led and become leaders in their own right. Because above all in the 21st century we need leadership distributed across organisations. Whatever the official title accountability, decision-making, thinking creatively, courageous communication and adaptability is the remit of all for collaborative working.
GREAT LEADERS CREATE LEADERS OF THEIR FOLLOWERS
At Global Business Leaders, we want to help people rediscover leadership as a positive, inclusive and collaborative force for change.
Leadership as a service to the whole organisation and the organisation’s service to the world.
When that’s what you are delivering along the line, whatever your title, you’re a great leader.
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