Creating Today’s Leader:
Leadership and all that jazz!
Today’s leaders are under extreme pressure; financial, political, ethical, technological, environmental. Survival in a troubled world financial system, against a background of dysfunctional political structures requires a new way of thinking and acting.
Years ago I had described a leader as being like an orchestra conductor, interpreting the score, blending the instruments and sections into a dynamic and melodious melody. Later I became acquainted with another lens offered by Herman Miller CEO Max de Pree. In his elegant and powerful writing he compared the role of leader to a jazz band leader.
Improvisation and creativity are at play.
How can leaders in organisations survive and prosper? What actions might cut through stubbornly held positions of tradition, policy or practice? Is hope alive? The limit of command and control measures mostly give way to the superior persuade and influence approach.
v Look beyond the obvious.
Even in this age of digital transfer, we handle the notes of our national currency every day. Hold a banknote to the light to see the watermark. Look beyond the obvious in situations where old solutions are no longer effective.
Different approaches, designs, combinations will serve you best.
Innovation has to be consistently encouraged and stimulated across the company, business or organisation. Carefully considered, mutually beneficial partnerships and alliances can leverage growth.
v Listen to discordant voices as well as the chosen ones.
The most obvious mistake any leader can make is to surround themselves with yes men or women.
This group-think cripples clear thinking and silences straight talking. It shuts out alternatives and builds the dangerous myth of the one right way. Politicians suffer from an ego blindness which others so clearly see.
Wise counsel comes from accurate analysis and a fusion of mind and heart.
v Encourage improvisation; feed entrepreneurs.
For a small nation Australians have a deserved reputation as great improvisers. Early in our history the ANZACS achieved a great tactical withdrawal in the face of withering enemy fire. Their simple inventions led them to believe a large force was still present in the trenches. Venture capital funding in California’s Silicon Valley has allowed technology companies to become billion dollar companies with a worldwide reach.
Seed funding in any size organisation, school or business can bear great returns.
v Examine a range of data sources to make decisions and to plan strategy.
Study both statistical and descriptive data to inform decision making. Use both formal and direct channels of communication for genuine feedback. Ask key forensic questions to dissect cause and effect, timing, sequences.
Evidence based decision making works.
v Practice flexibility; work on speed.
Exponents of yoga extol the virtues of having a flexible body and mind. Accelerating change demands nimble approaches, rapid responses, timely service. Speed of delivery and twenty four seven accessibility across time zones is the norm.
The clever leader knows when to be the orchestra conductor and the jazz band leader. Both styles can enable you to be a respected, effective leader in business, education or the arts.