Just Seven Things

Exploring why and how we do what we do, and how we can do it better

Archive for the category “Leadership”

Leadership Traps: Thinking too Fast and Continuing Biases

I’ve been thinking about leadership traps I’ve read about recently (predominantly in Guy Claxton’s Hare Brain Tortoise Mind, but brought into relief by various mainstream Management Today, Fortune and FT articles)

By leadership traps I’m thinking of things (like ‘not reading management texts because of apparently being already ‘at the top of the tree”) that appear to be structural faults in a number of management and leadership teams and the nature of the relationships therein:

  1. The ‘sycophancy’ of leaders not being challenged, with the result that their beliefs and business/ life ‘filters’ drive the same types of decision-making that they always make
  2. Too busy and too fast: the super-human CEO. Carlos Ghosn (as much as I admire him) style of hyper-tasking – he is CEO of both Renault and Nissan. I wrote previously about whether the leadership position would have to morph over time into the thoughtful/ contemplative strategic CEO and the ‘hyper-executive’ Chief Operating Officer (COO). If the leader does not make time to sit back and think: to contemplate and percolate, who else will? And yet, the demands for efficiency and performance currently reach their nadir in the leader. Sitting and thinking or reading appears to be frowned upon…
  3. Challenging leadership teams: a flip on the first point above. George Prince is cited by Claxton in research on speculation (the exploring of tentative ideas in public) as being capped by management teams that are in any way competitive or judgemental ‘the victim of the win-lose or competitive posture is always speculation, and therefore idea production and problem solving’:  so if the leader does not work on an environment of constructive/ non-competitive challenge, then lack of idea production and problem solving will perpetuate too narrow a leader-led focus and unchallenged decision-making
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Surely Continual Learning Should Apply to the Boss Too?

World in My Hand by Sachin Ghodke

World in My Hand by Sachin Ghodke

I was clearing through some old articles I cut and not yet reviewed. About a year ago the FT ran a survey of global business leaders to try and ascertain whether there was one business book which had had most influence over them.

The fact that there was no consensus (it was either a Peters or Drucker book that received four votes. All other books selected just received one vote each) is not the point of this piece.

It was an interesting set of assertions about global leaders’ reading habits that surprised me (I don’t think I misinterpreted…)

The gist of it was that such prominent leaders would be bordering on the dereliction of their duties if they were seen to be spending their time reading ‘business’ or ‘management’ books. That their shareholders would be aghast that such individuals would have either need (nor time) to read and learn anything from these books..

Maybe I did read it wrong?

Read more…

The Role of Leadership Vision

I was thinking about the concept of leadership and the importance of the leader’s vision to the group of people being lead. Specifically, the multiple levels in which leadership vision works. I know a lot of this is well-trodden territory, but it helped my train of thought on something else to write this down:

  1. There is the obvious creation of a fully-sensory vision (if done well) of where that group of people are going. If the full group are engaged in the vision then there is a shared view of a successful future outcome. A shared goal.
  2. In being created by one person, the groups’ actions should have an extra degree of alignment. Aligned actions to achieve the goal.
  3. A leader’s vision enables the individual to fill in the gaps within a defined framework/ journey direction. It is this that enables the engagement and commitment required for major action. An engagement framework .
  4. It makes action towards the goal by the group easier. Sharing or signing up for a collective or corporate vision make it easier to focus on the doing, rather than worrying about where you’re going. Making actions easier.
  5. There is the need and specific accountability of the leader to keep on communicating that vision to the group he or she is leading. An important element of communication is the flexibility to communicate in a way that works for the recipients of the communication. The effort behind this communication re-affirms/ strengthens and makes more real the vision for the leader. A self-reaffirming vision for the leader.
  6. The act of constantly communicating and aligning execution behind the vision also facilitates a level of analysis, introspection and criticism of the vision against new facts and changes in the environment as they arise. This sets the stage for any potential tweaks to the vision, or strategies to deliver that vision, in closer to real-time. A self-adjusting mechanic.

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