Step Forward

take-me-to-your-leader-1Given current events, this seems an appropriate question to reflect on today.

In more stable peiods, leadership is less of a challenge. We can identify traits, behaviours, and models and for many years, many people have made a very good livijng training people how to lead.

In the currrent more, er, fluid environment, leadership becomes at the same time much more demanding, but paradoxically, much easier. It becomes about who we are.

When things are as they at the moment, no amount of training, marketing or PR will hack it. Authenticity rules, and any deviation toward a “designed position” stands a very high risk of being seen for what it is – a form of manipulation. If the last three months teaches us nothing else, it teaches us that.

Napoleon Bonaparte said that “Leaders are merchants of hope”. We might do well to remember that.

Today, more than ever, leadership is a disposition, not a role.

If you can answer the following questions without hesitation, then you are one:

  1. Who am I – the real me, or am I being asked to be something other than who I am?
  2. What do I want to achieve with my life that is about more than me?
  3. What are my values – what will I NOT do, what lines will I not cross?
  4. What is my “stance”, or my intention right now? Does it match 1-3?

Everything else – your skills, gifts, networks and experience are all assets to help you deliver what only you can deliver, no matter how small it may seem. We need it from you please.

We all have a choice in fluid times. To watch, or to step forward.

It’s a big  ask, but it’s a choice. Understanding why we’re doing it, how to do it, who to do it with, and what to do. Personally, I believe it’s better than being a spectator.

 

 

The Purpose Platform

give me a place to stand dr kehres

We crave certainty – it’s one of the fundamental, hard wired features of the brain. The only real choice we have is to be clear about that on which we wish to be certain.

As organisations have grown over the last few generations, both neceesity and experience has moved us away from community, family and beliefs as the focus of our certainty to the workplace. A secure job, a secure pension and a good credit rating has become the focus of our certainty. Yet……

This has been eroding quietly in the background for some time. For the most part, it has suited us – experts and lay people alike – to regard what has really been signal, as “noise” – anomalies that will correct themselves. It remains like this, until signal will no longer be denied, and a “black swan” event occurs – most recently, BREXIT.

Both research and experience demonstrate that people vote based on feelings rather than logic, and that those feelings will be generated by that which repels them most. Yet despite this, campaings were run that made that which most repelled become the politicians – the messengers more than the message, and as a result, we ended up with a Black Swan event. The assumption that we would put a desire for economic certainty over a deep seated sense of unfairness proved catastrophically wrong.

We now face an extended period of increased uncertainty, so, if we are not to lose the plot, where do we get our certainty from now?

The answer I think is that it is where it has always been, but for many has been submerged beneath the external drive for us to comply, to compete and to be economically successful. It lies in our own, individual, unique sense of purpose.

We all have one, even if often we’re not sure what it is. There is no quiz, test or consultant who can tell you what it is, but we all sense it.

It is at the heart of where we perform at our best, and sense reward from doing it for its own sake. It always involves something that is bigger than just us, and always involves, in whatever way, helping others. It is central to our growth, and our resilience. It is “somewhere to stand” that is within our own gift, not determined by others.

It is different for each of us – for some a cause, others a belief and others an exploration.

If we acknowedge it, even just the vague sense of it, we can change things. In “Enabling Genius” we identified three elements of understanding where our “genius” might lie – Desire (of which purpose is part), Identity (an understanding of who we really are, our “authentic self”) and mindset (the way we think).

With a sense of purpose, of our “individual genius” if you will, other things become more evident. We can make better choices about who we wotk with and support – in particular, organisations (and politicians!), and the roles we undertake that grow others, through  the organisation, and ourselves.

Rather like fitting your own oxygen mask in place first so you can help others in an emergency, so acknowledging your own, innate, individual purpose is a first step to increasing your sense of certainty, and with that the route to personal and organsiational growth.

Uncertainty is not the enemy, it’s relying on others to provide it for you that is.

If this interests, have a look at Dan Pontefract’s work in this area.

Slaying Dragons

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We have talked for a long time about VUCA conditions – volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. It’s a powerful concept, although up to now has been more a concept than a considered reality.

In the UK, that changed last Thursday, and the probability is that we’re only just getting going, and if we think it will somehow be limited to the UK, I suspect we will be very mistaken. One can sense the flocks of black swans gathering on the horizon.

The result is that we are now in the dragon manufacturing business. Our limbic systems go into overdrive, and we create all manner of monsters, rather as Navigators of old labelled unexplored areas “here be dragons”

The conditions may indeed be difficult, induced other monsters we created, but that is n reason for us to give them the credence we gave them.

Our biggest challenge is to move our mindsets away from one of dependence on others, through to establishing individual independence, and using that independence as a platform to work with others on an interdependence driven by choice. That is the most effective way to slay the dragons.

So, how to start?

It is a simple and it can be challenging. It starts with an acceptance – that there are, as Buckminster Fuller noted, things that need to be done, that others seem not to see need to be done, and which you can start. In other words, your purpose.

It’s a daunting thought for many – as BF also noted, there is nothing in a caterpillar that recognises it will become a butterfly.

With a sense of purpose, you have a secure platform, which you can use to determine who you work with, what role you take, which will withstand all manner of dragons.

In my next post, we’ll look more at finding purpose in the midst of uncertainty.

We have talked for a long time about VUCA conditions – volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. It’s a powerful concept, although up to now has been more a concept than a considered reality.

In the UK, that changed last Thursday, and the probability is that we’re only just getting going, and if we think it will somehow be limited to the UK, I suspect we will be very mistaken. One can sense the flocks of black swans gathering on the horizon.

The result is that we are now in the dragon manufacturing business. Our limbic systems go into overdrive, and we create all manner of monsters, rather as Navigators of old labelled unexplored areas “here be dragons”

The conditions may indeed be difficult, induced other monsters we created, but that is n reason for us to give them the credence we gave them.

Our biggest challenge is to move our mindsets away from one of dependence on others, through to establishing individual independence, and using that independence as a platform to work with others on an interdependence driven by choice. That is the most effective way to slay the dragons.

So, how to start?

It is a simple and it can be challenging. It starts with an acceptance – that there are, as Buckminster Fuller noted, things that need to be done, that others seem not to see need to be done, and which you can start. In other words, your purpose.

It’s a daunting thought for many – as BF also noted, there is nothing in a caterpillar that recognises it will become a butterfly.

With a sense of purpose, you have a secure platform, which you can use to determine who you work with, what role you take, which will withstand all manner of dragons.

In my next post, we’ll look more at finding purpose in the midst of uncertainty.