What’s new in the field of leadership?
The progression of our society, shifts in values, and even technology, influence us greatly. In turn, these mould our behaviour – for example, consider how many of our attitudes today vary from those of our parents’ generation. The only constant in life is that things never stay the same.
Leadership is more about the people being led than the leader. If we change, and the way we view our world evolves as time passes, it’s no surprise that leadership methods need a rethink. Using old practices to lead and motivate staff won’t work if our expectations have moved.
Here are five new approaches that are already being employed in organisations:
Spontaneity and accessibility are the key factors behind this approach. Leaders at Honda encourage ‘drop in’/anytime meetings, where rank is irrespective, so that employees who feel they can contribute towards innovation or the success of the company can report anything that impacts the organisation. Waigaya was a result of the company’s belief that scheduled meetings were not as dynamic in comparison to this new approach, and only affected the productivity of their busy staff.
There are four basic rules for waigaya: everybody is equal; all ideas must be disputed until proven valid or rejected; once an idea is shared it’s Honda’s and no longer the originator’s; and at the end of waigaya, tasks and responsibilities are awarded, and subjected to timelines.
Though it may sound more like they’re thrown in at the deep end, at Leaders’ Quest, senior executives are encouraged to work at ground level on projects or in widely-different roles, to get completely different perspectives on their own issues. Rather than learning from a textbook or seminar how others manage with fewer resources and against altogether different challenges, this social enterprise believe the knowledge is only absorbed if the participants are asked to physically do the same.
People are brought together from all walks of life, and get to experience things outside their comfort zone; the theory is that they can take what they’ve learned to apply themselves when back in their role. The more responsibility on a leader’s shoulder, the more likely they’ll have no time to really notice the environment surrounding them; placing them on a quest completely removes them from their day-to-day pressures, and opens up their mind to other possibilities.
The Golden Circle
Simon Sinek suggests that traditional leaders concern themselves only with the ‘what’ and ‘how’; he refers to those who dig deeper, asking ‘why’ something happens, as ‘the golden circle’. Asking ‘why’ something is done, he says, helps us to look at challenges with a fresh perspective and allows us to tap into our intuition – it’s purpose-driven leadership. Based on neuroscience, Sinek explains how these questions are processed differently in our brains. The two outer sections of our mind concern themselves with the ‘how’ and ‘what’; they’re rational, with no capacity for language.
The ‘why’ comes from the inner section that we’re still discovering more about: the section that’s concerned with emotions, desire and communication. When we start to speak from the outside in, starting with facts and data, we don’t get to the place where people make decisions. Flipping this on its head, when we start from the inside out, we access people’s wants and needs before finishing with the necessary facts and figures to back up our argument or further our persuasion.
Something I’ve covered on this blog before, Susan Cain’s championing of the introvert as a more effective leader is certainly thought-provoking. Susan claims that introverts do more listening than talking and can therefore read situations better. Those who shout the loudest don’t necessarily shout the best – taking the time to process the information received helps leaders to make more informed decisions. The introvert’s ability to stay focused is one of the main qualities a leader needs, as is their focus on making meaningful connections: quality over quantity.
70% of our communication is non-verbal. The physicalities of a leader, from the way they hold themselves to their body language, can change the way they speak and think. Incorporating mindfulness practices hones confidence and compassion, amongst other things, as well as helping leaders to stay composed and focused under pressure and stress.
These leadership trends will themselves change over time. There are recurring elements within the themes, even though their approaches are different: immersion, involvement and greater understanding. As detailed in last week’s blog, if a leader has focus, a mindful perspective, and a commitment to get more from his team, they will all share success. I doubt this will change in the future, even in our children’s children’s generation.
If you’d like help to boost or develop your leadership skills, contact me on 01302 220021, or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to digidreamgrafix and renjith krishnan from freedigitalphotos.net for use of the images.