The Future of Leadership - OR: Why we cannot expect different results when we continue to use the same old leadership styles
[If you don’t have time for my sarcastic musings, just read the text in blue italics for an executive overview]
“The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding. We are swimming in the former. We are desperately lacking in the latter.” Malcolm Gladwell
2018 – a new year (nothing escapes me!). No, I’m not going to bang on about NY resolutions, Keep Calm & carry on reading, you’re quite safe! (I don’t believe in NY resolutions btw – do what you need to do when you need to do it, not just because it’s January!). However, a bit of reflection is good...which makes me think...
41 years ago – 1977: Steve Jobs and Wozniak took the first Apple computer to market. I think we’ll all agree, 2018 is a world apart from 1977.
29 years ago – 1989: the World Wide Web was ‘invented’ by Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Back in 1989, when Kylie had a surname and when it was actually cool to listen to Tears for Fears, the B-52s & Billy Joel – hell, even Phil Collins was [relatively] cool back then!), knowledge really was power.
1977: Steve Jobs and Wozniak took the first Apple computer to market.
1989: the World Wide Web was ‘invented’ by Sir Tim Berners-Lee. In the 1989 workplace, knowledge was very much the domain of experts and senior managers...”
In the 1989 workplace, knowledge was very much the domain of experts and senior managers, who were actually respected for their sageness (yes, amazing, I know!) and it was accepted practice to seek out the grey-haired wise-owls to learn, grow & develop. Now, in most-part thanks to Sir TB-L, the World Wide Web connects almost everyone on the planet. Knowledge is now almost incomprehensibly and unboundedly available to almost every www connected person on the globe, almost anywhere (except in many places in Australia http://www.speedtest.net/global-index where we ashamedly come in at no. 55 in global internet speeds, nestled neatly in between Kazakhstan, UAE and Puerto Rico!).
“In 2018, knowledge is now very much not the exclusive domain of experts and senior leaders...”
In 2018, knowledge is now very much not the exclusive domain of experts. And worse – as the pace of change exponentially accelerates, and workplaces & practices evolve even faster than we choke our oceans with plastic & coffee cups, the pyramid of knowledge is being upended – with ever increasing rapidity, the younger workforce has a better idea of what’s going on & know way more relevant information than most of us self-confessed 80’s music tragics!
“the pyramid of knowledge is now being upended – the younger workforce increasingly has a better idea of what’s going on & know way more relevant information...”
So what’s my point, I hear you ask? Well, as the knowledge pyramid is rotating & shaking everything up, it’s time for a different view of how we lead. How can we expect different results if we continue to use the same old leadership styles, models & tools when our workplaces are being turned upside down?
As Malcolm Gladwell said, “The key of good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding. We are swimming in the former. We are desperately lacking in the latter.”
“How can we expect different results from the same old leadership styles, models & tools when our workplaces are being turned upside down?”
Understanding thinking is where we need to be. You must understand thinking to be able to apply knowledge. If the younger workforce increasingly have more knowledge and better insight than those of us with the B-52s on our music play lists, then we as senior leaders – leaders at ALL levels, in fact – need to listen and understand more.
“Understanding thinking is where we need to be. The younger workforce increasingly has more knowledge and better insight... senior leaders – all leaders– need to listen to them more”
And that’s not something most leaders are good at. Many think they are, but experience (and most 360° feedback surveys we do!) says otherwise. Leaders love to offer their opinions and advice – it gives us a dopamine hit in our nucleus accumbens, and we walk away smiling having been happily chemically rewarded for having handed out our sage wisdom. But: opinions are like our children - we love our own the best.
“How can you expect innovation if you don’t listen & understand thinking? How can you innovate if keep telling people your solutions?”
The problem is, our knowledge is often a bit like our music tastes - often outdated & seen as sadly behind the times! How can we expect to innovate, be agile, rapidly change & grow if we keep telling people what to do and don’t listen to fresh thinking?
“It’s time to take a Coaching Leadership approach: stop telling people what to do and ask “what’s your thinking behind that?”
It’s time for leaders (and people at all levels) to tell less and shift focus to understanding - and understanding thinking. If you as a leader take a Coaching Leadership approach, stop telling people what to do and ask “what’s your thinking behind that?” as your overall default response, it can have a profound impact. Likewise if you ask your manager the same question.
“Neuroscience research shows that when you facilitate someone else to come to their own solution & understanding, they get a feel-good chemical dopamine hit – AND so do you! It’s a win/win.
When we understand thinking, collaboration improves. Trust improves. Engagement improves – people feel more connected, valued, listened to, heard, validated, empowered: people feel like they belong to and contribute the bigger picture and have more of a sense of purpose – which is what we hear is so sadly lacking in so many places.
“Taking a Coaching Leadership approach and creating a Coaching Culture is now the future of leadership”
Ideas come to the forefront and are heard: innovation improves! How can you innovate if you keep telling people your [80’s music-based] solutions?
Taking a Coaching Leadership approach and creating a Coaching Culture is now the future of leadership:
- ask not tell
- sharing and understanding thinking
- empowering people by teaching them to fish instead of handing them fish
- ...and better, facilitating problem solving skills to improve fish catching and innovation to apply thinking to effectively catch other things
- sharing thinking & understanding
- sharing your why as a leader
- hearing their why & ideas
- then agreeing on and taking action!
“When we understand thinking, collaboration improves. Trust improves. Engagement improves. Innovation improves. People feel more valued, listened to, heard, validated, connected, empowered”
Neuroscience research shows that when you help someone else come to their own solution & understanding, they get a feel-good chemical dopamine hit in their nucleus accumbens – AND so does the leader, so everyone walks away smiling having been happily chemically rewarded! It’s genuinely a win/win - which is obviously a better outcome for engagement and productivity. And the more people do it, the more they will do it: neurons that fire together wire together, and stronger wiring creates stronger habits!
“As a leader, even simply sharing your thinking ensures everyone understands the why...people will be much more engaged and motivated”
As a leader, even simply sharing your thinking ensures everyone understands the why - the reasons behind actions. That then ensures they will be much more engaged and motivated, and better-equipped to make sound decisions...with minimal input and guidance from you. You’ll end up getting rid of monkeys off your back instead of collecting them. And that in turn will make your job easier & will give you more time for that elusive strategic thinking you never quite seem to get around to.
“Ask people “what’s your thinking around that?” before you jump in with your opinion/idea/solution.”
So, go give it a go. Ask people “what’s your thinking around that?” before you jump in with your opinion/idea/solution. Ask to understand. Listen to understand. Promote understanding. You have 2 ears & 1 mouth: time to use them in that proportion.
Ask us to come & have a coffee (or a wine/beer!) so we can understand what you want to change in your leadership culture. With that understanding we can help you understand how we might support you in your thinking and work together to “make the world a better place through better leadership” then share our thinking about our pioneering neuroscience-based Coaching Culture Leadership programs.
Be TOADALLY... inspired!