Monday, November 20, 2006

A Vision of Leadership is now named Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation

The name of the model, A Vision of Leadership has been changed to Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation. All references in this blog will be amended.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

A Vision of Leadership - Access to the Interactive Model

The domain name www.avisionofleadership.com has become unavailable as the url for the model. The interactive version will therefore be inaccessible until new arrangements are made. Unfortunately, the links from this blog to the model will not function as intended.

Meanwhile, The Leader-Follower incorporates full details of the model. Entry pages include:

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Interactive Leadership, the Associate and the Leader-Follower

Business Week 10/2/06 cites a study by CO2 Partners: Managers seeking advice tend to ignore lower grade workers, the one's who "actually make the stuff or are dealing with customers," which conclusion is supported by survey data.


Employees who say their bosses "often" ask them for advice:
  • Those with high school diploma or less, 24%
  • College graduates, 54%
  • Those earning less than $25,000 annually, 30%
  • Those earning more than $75,000 annually, 52%
These results reminded me of some of my observations in an earlier post, Interactive Leadership and how that relates to the concept of The Leader-Follower.

I'm associating a boss's "often asking for advice" with the boss stopping leading for a while and by inquiring, placing the employee in a temporary position of leadership. By drawing on some aspect of the employee's expertise and experience, by asking for advice and listening, the boss is adopting a follower role. Without this flexibility on the part of the boss, we get into a "chain of command" process in which the boss protects his power of position, using it to control the employee who does whatever appears appropriate to retain his or her job.

As I write, I am recognizing yet again the power our language holds over us and how it can promote the declining values of our culture rather than those which are new and vibrant. "Boss" and "employee" are incongruent. The only boss I know who is not an employee is a board member - a CEO is an employee and so is a Vice President or Director even while they can also be described as bosses. Ideally, every employee is a leader-follower, giving advice and receiving it as necessary to accomplish the organizational or team objectives. Fortunately, there is new language emerging. W.L. Gore among others now use the term "associate," de-emphasizing distinctions of positional power and highlighting the association brought about by shared objectives.

I believe the associate role implies interactive leadership and I want to briefly explore that in reference to A Vision of Leadership (now Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation).

In the "associate" concept, the values lead and follow are united by respect which permits the interchangeability of leader and follower roles, the interaction of leader and follower or interactive leadership. An associate is a leader-follower.

In an organization in which position power differentials still exist, interactive leadership supports healthier information exchanges than are possible with pure command and control or transactional leadership. In a collaboration or leaderless team where position power is absent, however, contributions become even more effective. In this way, interactive leadership can occur both in an organization and a collaboration and in each case this is possible when those involved perceive themselves as leader-followers.

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Free Leadership Coaching !!!

(A Vision of) Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation is already a reference in two university courses but there's nothing like testing a leadership model using real workplace issues and have the users themselves report the results. Hence this experiment and offer.

You are a candidate for free, confidential, leadership coaching if you:

  • Face a personal leadership challenge that you are ready to discuss with me in private.
  • Can devote one uninterrupted hour at your computer on a weekday, between 7 am and 6 pm PST.
  • Use Skype (or audio IM) + Webcam or can support my remote access to your video-conference system.
I am committed to:
  • Respond to every request. (If there are too many I will announce that.)
  • Make my best efforts, using A Vision of Leadership, to help you find a way to address the leadership challenge you face.
  • Keep the content of our conversation confidential.
To participate:
  • Email to my personal mailbox, a short (100 to 300 words) description of the issue you wish to address, including alternate dates and times for one hour of coaching together with your videoconference information.
  • During the 5 working days following your coaching session, apply what you discover.
  • Afterwards, enter a comment (anonymously if you wish) into this blog, including: the challenge, lessons from coaching, results in the workplace and observations about A Vision of Leadership.
I look forward working with you.

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Monday, September 11, 2006

A Story of Power

I was recently told about gentleman living in a city in another country, who carried a concealed pistol. There, it is very rare for a civilian to legally carry a firearm in public and, indeed, he had obtained the appropriate permit. When he was asked by a visitor what he was protecting himself against his reply was unexpected. "I am protecting myself from myself."

As I understand it, this gentleman is using the pistol as a reminder of how powerful he is, how easy it is to call on his power, how potentially dangerous his power can be and therefore how circumspect he must be in its use.

I might have been skeptical except that the story was told me by the visitor, who is someone I tend to believe. As I thought further I realized that the gentleman had provided a wonderful example. It is not that I am proposing we all carry handguns but it does make a lot of sense, before we use our power to serve an objective, to consider the downside that can come from its even accidental misuse.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Leadership Quotes

This is a compilation of quotes to which I add from time to time.


RELATIONSHIPS
In organizations, real power and energy is generated through relationships. The patterns of the relationships and the capacities to form them are more important than tasks, functions, roles and positions.

- Margaret Wheatley


GOOD LEADERS
Good Leaders make people feel that they're at the very heart of things, not at the periphery. Everyone feels that he or she makes a difference to the success of the organization. When that happens people feel centered and that's what gives their work meaning.
- Warren Bennis


FRIENDSHIP
Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow.
Don't walk behind me, I may not lead.
Just walk beside me and be my friend.
-Albert Camus


SUCCESS
To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson


THE FINAL TEST OF A LEADER
The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on.
- Walter Lippman.


VISION
Vision is not enough, it must be combined with venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps, we must step up the stairs.
-Vaclav Havel

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Can Respect Survive the Bad Times?

In her 8/18/06 article in wsws.org, Joanne Laurier describes an extreme case of lack of respect between leaders and followers: Northwest Airlines to laid-off workers: rummage through the trash. Workers who have already made substantial concessions and are now to be laid off as their jobs are outsourced, received a company published book, "Preparing for Financial Setback," which contained this and other unusual recommendations. Meanwhile it is reported that executive earnings exceed $20m and prior to Northwest's bankruptcy filing the chairman dumped stock worth $26m.


The Vision of Leadership (now Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation) shows how, in the name of effective organization and collaboration, respecting binds together leader and follower. The leader is usually the person or people who take an initiative. Over the years Northwestern employees have lead by striking (disrupting organization and collaboration) in the hope of retaining benefits. In the present case management leads by publishing "Preparing for Financial Setback" against a background of pocket lining by executives. At this point any residue of mutual respect is likely to have evaporated, creating yet more obstacles to organization and collaboration.

Before airline industry deregulation Northwestern had a very successful business model and since then the company has been adapting to the new circumstances. The news item highlights how respect between leaders and followers is probably more important and harder to sustain in the bad times than in the good. In the good times organization and collaboration appear to be effective. In the bad times, with the stress of change, assumptions are challenged and small, misplaced actions can be potently negative. Without basic respect, an enterprise's survival through bad times appears less probable and if that culture continues, longer term success appears improbable.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Return on Leadership Investment

The Boss's Paycheck

CEO compensation policy is "not rocket science" yet it "remains remarkably disparate" at major U.S. corporations, according to two studies by The Corporate Library, an independent research firm.

The first study, Pay for Failure, highlighted 11 companies that authorized a total of $865 million in pay to CEOs who presided over an aggregate loss of $640 billion in shareholder value.

"Pay for Failure"

  • AT&T Inc.
  • BellSouth Corporation
  • Hewlett-Packard Company
  • Home Depot, Inc.
  • Lucent Technologies Inc.
  • Merck & Co., Inc.
  • Pfizer Inc.
  • Safeway Inc.
  • Time Warner Inc.
  • Verizon Communications Inc.
  • Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

The second study, Pay for Success, highlighted 10 companies that awarded $190 million in pay to CEOs who presided over $82.7 billion in gains.

"Pay for Success"

  • AutoNation, Inc.
  • AutoZone, Inc.
  • Express Scripts, Inc.
  • Franklin Resources, Inc.
  • Humana Inc.
  • NCR Corporation
  • Nordstrom, Inc.
  • Nucor Corporation
  • Progressive Corporation
  • Whole Foods Market, Inc.
Source: BusinessEthicsBuzz, August 2006

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Relationships

In organizations, real power and energy is generated through relationships. The patterns of the relationships and the capacities to form them are more important than tasks, functions, roles and positions.

- Margaret Wheatley

Courtesy of HeartQuotes

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Good Leaders

Good Leaders make people feel that they're at the very heart of things, not at the periphery. Everyone feels that he or she makes a difference to the success of the organization. When that happens people feel centered and that's what gives their work meaning. - Warren Bennis

- Courtesy of HeartQuotes

Editorial - If a person is to be included he/she must be able to make a contribution, i.e. to lead, at least at the time of contributing in a way that makes a difference. So, organizationally, it is fair to say that "feeling centered" is experiencing that one is neither solely a leader nor a follower but a complete leader-follower.

Friday, June 23, 2006

A Nice Angle on the Innovative Process

"The future is not a result of choices among alternative paths offered by the present, but a place that is created--created first in the mind and will, created next in activity. The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made, and the activity of making them, changes both the maker and the destination."

- John Schaar

Courtesy of HeartMath

Monday, May 15, 2006

Friendship

Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow.

Don't walk behind me, I may not lead.
Just walk beside me and be my friend.

-Albert Camus

Courtesy of Heart Quotes

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Next Big Thing

I found myself reading Alex Cameron's post, "If we don’t know where we are going – then where is The Next Big Thing?" on EDS's Next Big Thing Blog and was stimulated to comment as follows.

The Next Big Thing is indeed a technological manifestation of leading and innovating. No, we cannot we predict what TNBT will be or from where it will come except that the source will be a person (or group of people) and quite often not the person we might expect. A person who appears to have been following will surprise us by taking the lead and solving the problem while immediately before, s/he had been implementing rather than innovating. If all this is true we have some important clues to the source of TNBT.

Let's make a shift in our assumptions and propose that all followers are potential leaders and that all implementers are potential innovators. Also let's also propose that with respect to others a person can only be leading or following and with respect to their work they can only be innovating or implementing. This takes us to the idea that any person in the workplace is exhibiting at a given time some combination of leading or following and innovating or implementing.

As each of these is a desirable activity and the implied versatility is
very desirable. For lack of a better name lets say this person is exhibiting leadership! Yes, this is a different model of leadership but test it. Just imagine if this or something similar was pervasive in your organizations!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Success

If I could write like this I would not be bothering with a model.

To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson


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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Leadership and Vision

The idea of 'vision' is important to all human behavior because, as recent research has confirmed, our brains cannot always distinguish between an experience we are having, a memory of a prior experience (deja vu etc.) or a memory of a prior visualization.

A vision is important to leadership for a couple of reasons. A person with vision is empowered by mental maps s/he has developed that extend beyond the field of immediate experience and suggest new possibilities for action and can be acted upon as 'real' extensions of the field of immediate experience. In other words this person can create his or her own future. This individual capacity becomes massively multiplied when the vision is shared by others. The relevant leadership attributes therefore, are to envision, create/share a vision in a meaningful way with others and act upon it.

This is an ongoing list of posts that focus on vision or visualization:


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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Leadership and Collaboration

This is an ongoing list of posts with a focus on collaboration.

(Last updated 4/22/06)

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Transactional Leadership

In two earlier posts this subject was discussed but not made explicit in the title.

  • " . . . Transactional leadership it is about the power of position and interactive leadership is about the power of relationships. . , " from Interactive Leadership.
  • ". . . Where this leads-follows is that of transactional and interactive leadership, neither is inherently superior. . ," from Leadership and Gender.

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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Leader vs Follower

This title suggests that one can be only a leader or a follower and this is possible but often with disastrous effects. A single person can be a leader or follower and anyone that is one now can be the other next. Many searches for "leader vs follower" bring readers to this blog but the results page that is chosen doesn't explain this principle of the leader-follower relationship.

Using illustrations from the proposed tetrahedral model, " A Vision of Leadership" (now Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation), we can see it is respect that keeps leader and follower in relationship, each respecting the other for the role they are taking. With no respect the relationship becomes dysfunctional and one or both will give up their roles or, if both choose to be leaders they will compete and if both choose to be followers nothing will happen! Respecting is a leadership practice necessary for leading and following in at least two different, important contexts, organization and collaboration.

By organization I mean the structure that is formed by leaders for implementation in which followers conform. This is typically the traditional hierarchy structure used to reliably and repeatedy implement routine operations according to policy, a necessary component of all collective activities. A leader leads followers even while following his/her leader. Really there is no such thing as a leader or a follower. Each person is both, a leader-follower, following one or more people and leading one or more, different people. (Notice that this applies to the person lowest in the hierarchy if they are taking initiatives with respect to others.)

The leader-follower behavior is quite different in collaboration. In this case the person leading improvises in order to innovate and the person following responds to support the innovation. Unlike in a hierarchy the leading and following roles are not fixed according to positional power but are situational, according to whoever can contribute most effectively at any moment. Rather than choosing a leader or follower role according to the position of the other, it is selected according to the value of the other's contribution.

The question, "Am I a leader or a follower?" implies a person can be only one or the other which leads to very unfortunate consequences. Someone who is just a leader will give orders, take independent action, be answerable to no-one and be unable to collaborate; such a person is a dictator. On the other hand the person who chooses just to follow can exist only at the lowest level of a hierarchical organization and be unable/unwilling to take any initiatives with respect to another person; this person is a slave. "Leader or follower?" implies only bad choices unless the response is "both."

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Chief Innovation Officer

Jena McGregor with May Barrett in the current edition of Business Week wrote the very interesting article, "Dawn of the Idea Czar." I commented as follows.

The task of the newer senior management positions, including CXOs for quality, information, learning and now, innovation is to elevate specific values. Traditionally, enterprise culture is shaped by organizations with the largest resources, usually focusing on implementation often within cultural silos. The CIO can counter this tendency by engendering innovation focused cross-organization and cross-function collaboration. Success requires a dynamic interchange of leader and follower roles according to who can contribute most usefully in contrast to the static leader-follower relationships of the hierarchical, implementation organization. Cultural change is a leadership responsibility. The primary task of the CIO is to model leadership that brings leading or following and implementing or innovating appropriate to the situation and to stimulate a culture that situationally values these four attributes. Their possible relationships are detailed in the model Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Cross Boundary Collaboration

In his new blog, collaboratioNation, speaker and author Seth Kahan examines how people work together across boundaries with illustrations from a multiethnic school, a toy company where customers design products, a story of how stone soup fed a village and more.

I'm comfortable proposing that leading and following is about changing one's physical, emotional and mental boundaries for the benefit of others and welcome Seth's contribution to the conversation about the collaborative aspect of this.

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Monday, March 06, 2006

Leadership and Decision Making

"One's philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes . . . and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility."

Eleanor Roosevelt

(from HeartMath)

Friday, March 03, 2006

Inner and Outer Leadership

There's an external face to leadership. First the personal - gestures, tone of voice, content of speech, expression and so on. Beyond that but still close to the person, there are the symbols or accouterments like a bench, a chair or a throne. Then, physically independent of the person, are their results such as the attitudes of those around them, their reputations and their products including projects, organizations and enterprises or writings, science and art. Meanwhile we know so well that leadership is more than these externals but these are what we most easlily observe and together comprise what we call "character" in our attempt to describe the real person.

Descriptions of character or personality may be as close as we can get to describing a specific leader unless that person does it for us by telling us what they think about themselves and what they stand for. But this gets complicated. Are they really describing themselves and how are we interpreting this information? Although we can develop skills of discernment we can never know the truth of it and ultimately the decision to trust, to follow, requires a leap of faith. And just the same applies as a leader enrolls a follower.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Playfullize the Enterprize!

This is the admonition of Major Fun himself, otherwise known as Bernie Dekoven. To appreciate this gentleman it is helpful to know that he once ran a small operation initialed IBM. In this case IBM stood for the Institute for Better Meetings. If I called him and he was away from his phone the voicemail message was, "Hello, this is Bernie. I'm presently conducting a Better Meeting, so please leave a message." Bernie brings a uniquely multifaceted approach to revivifying the fun that was in an enterprise. You can sample the possibilities at DeepFUN for Businesses and Institutions.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Leadership and Gender

The model, "A Vision of Leadership" (now Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation) incorporates the assumptions that we are all inherently leaders and followers both externally with respect to others and internally within ourselves. Additionally the model assumes that we are all driven to innovate and implement, or create and do. At different times these values or imperatives to lead, follow, innovate and implement, have different powers in our lives proportionate to our needs, habits and context. "A Vision of Leadership," however, contains no consciously introduced gender component.

Earlier, in Interactive Leadership, I touched on gender for the first time. The proposition was that transactional and interactive leadership were masculine and feminine leadership styles. I have just read the traditional story "The Handless Maiden," as told by psychologist Robert Johnson. I was reminded that Jungians contend it essential to our wellbeing that a man has a complementary female aspect (anima) and a woman has a complementary male aspect (animus). The extent to which these aspects of our psyches are active or inactive is a significant determinant of our behavior.

With this perspective, I took a look at the model and found that each of the following pairings of values (corners) and outcomes (faces) can be considered a pairing of complementary masculine and feminine attributes. Remember now, as in the opening paragraph, A Vision of Leadership is an integral perspective and no part stands on its own or acts independently, i.e. you cannot effectively appreciate leading without appreciating following. With that in mind the complementary aspects can be classified: (if you go to the model, use the 'Reverse' link to toggle between value/corner and outcome/face)


These ideas are tested by looking at the practices responding and structuring.




Responding is driven by the 'feminine' imperatives to follow and innovate and supports the 'feminine' outcomes of contribution and collaboration.





Structuring is driven by the 'masculine' imperatives to lead and implement and supports the 'masculine' outcomes of visualization and organization. (If you go to the model, you can toggle between responding and structuring using the Reverse link.)


In the Jungian context, structuring is the leadership practice of a man or the animus in a woman and responding is the practice of a woman and the anima in a man. Additionally, structuring as a masculine practice is consistent with ideas earlier expressed around transactional leadership and responding as a feminine practice is consistent with interactive leadership. Where this leads-follows is that, of transactional and interactive leadership, neither is inherently superior. Leadership comprises some combination of both, fluctuating according to needs, habits and context. There are also some clues here about the importance of acknowledging/activating the opposite gender aspect in each of us.


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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

"Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower."

This Steve Jobs quote courtesy of Subconscious Films.

I perceive innovation as a driving force, an imperative or fundamental value. It shows up in a leader as the act or practice of improvising - making the implicit explicit to satisfy a need. An Apple PowerBook or iPod are both good examples. While the underlying architectures of a laptop or an mp3 player were well understood the Apple designs are innovative because some talented people, leaders in their field, improvised around those general themes to create exceptional products.

Innovation is a quality of a leader but not exclusively so. What about the people who purchase Apple products? They are followers! While innovation shows up in a leader as improvising it shows up in a follower as responding. Continuing the example, Apple's innovative designs resonate with a segment of consumers who respond by purchasing their products.

Innovation is a value important both to one who leads and to one who follows. In this context, leading and following are really distinguished according to how innovation manifests, in improvising or responding.


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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Walking the Talk

I didn't expect to continue to write about the model A Vision of Leadership (now Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation) however I gain new insights as I work with it, this one about "walking the talk." I first came across the expression early in the nineties and ever since have taken it as a reminder that it is appropriate to do or at least be able to do whatever one recommends to others. One not only gains from the presumably beneficial action but models it for others, leading by example. Conversely, one would fail to walk the talk and be considered hypocritical if one claimed to value something but neglected it in one's actions. I was content with that until I found some greater depth to this idea in the tetrahedral model.

In re-writing the descriptions of the features I repeatedly mixed up the ideas of leading others and leading oneself. There is a set of descriptions for each case and one day I will document both. Most recently I decided to adopt the convention that leadership is primarily about oneself and the effects one might have on others are secondary, arising only from effects one has on oneself. According to this convention the values lead and follow are about leading and following oneself but what does that mean?

A visualization is the imagined outcome by a leader of his/her creating structures to implement, improvising in order to innovate and realizing some objective through this innovation and implementation. This same visualization can be shared with others to provide them direction but that is secondary to providing direction for the visualizing leader.



In the metaphor of the tetrahedron, leadership is described by the total volume enclosed by all its features and that volume can be bounded by all four corners, all four faces or just one face and the opposing corner. The corner opposing 'visualization' is 'follow' and thus we have leadership when one who would follow adopts the visualization of one who would lead. If leader and follower are the same, following oneself means being true to one's own visualization.

Leadership is primarily about being intellectually honest or walking one's own internal talk. Although it may later be the same, this is not the talk that is shared with others but the talk one has with oneself prior to sharing it with others! In this way I have transformed my understanding of 'walking the talk' from acting congruently with already espoused values to acting congruently with values arising in the moment, espoused by oneself to oneself. No-one except the leader him/herself can observe whether their actions are consistent with their intuition, best judgment and conscience. Only I know if I am walking my talk!


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Monday, January 09, 2006

Interactive Leadership

I was looking at the search terms that are used to find my business site, Strategies for Leadership and noticed "interactive leadership," which finds it because of the "interactive, leadership model" I have described. I don't want visitors to be disappointed so I will reward them with something on the subject here and learn in the process. Before I write my own perceptions/understandings I thought it best to check what's been blogged on the subject and although there's not a lot, it might prove interesting:

  • In " Interactive Leadership - Leaders Who Listen" Gerard Kelly (8/17/05) uses a computer analogy, "Listening is where leadership begins. In a time of transition and change, it is where leadership must linger for much longer than we are used to. In the terminology of Computer Science, an interactive programme is one in which the operator is in direct communication with the computer, receiving immediate responses to input data. This is contrasted with batch processing, in which the necessary data and instructions are prepared in advance and processed by the computer with little or no intervention from the operator. Interactive leaders, then, are those who not only impact their environment but are impacted by it; who are as much shaped by relationships as they are shapers of them; who respond not only to principle but to particularity. The heart of interactivity is listening, and looking and learning are its constant companions. Interactive leaders are those who examine and explore; who research and respond. To lead interactively is to be a lifelong learner."
  • In "If Women Ruled the World" Published Sunday, September 25, 2005 by Mercutio, written by TARA SHARAFUDEEN we have a gender distinction, "Men traditionally tend to be more "transactional", that is they view the job as a series of transactions with subordinates, exchanging rewards and punishments for service. They are more likely to use the force of their organizational position and formal authority. Women described themselves as more "transformational", getting subordinates to put the group above themselves for a greater goal. . . . . Judy Rosener who conducted the "International Women's Forum Survey of Men and Women Leaders", surveyed women who described themselves as transactional leaders and found them to have an interactive leadership style. They encouraged participation, information sharing, tried to energize and raise the self worth of subordinates. They believed that to give their best, people need to feel good about their job and themselves." (LATER NOTE: I have built on these ideas in Leadership and Gender.) (NOTE OF 9/23/06. I've come across this further information about Judith Rosner's work.)
  • In "Beyond the Hype: Do Blogs Provide a Platform for Leadership?" Edward Deevy (7/18/05), I unexpectedly found a blogging comparison, " Later, as a consultant to a number of client organizations I advocated the concept of "leadership by walking around." At that time I stressed the importance of INTERACTIVE leadership. My bias was that leaders needed to not merely tell people what to do but they also needed to listen. . . . For a number of years I have recommended that organizational leaders interact regularly with employees in meetings and conferences. . . . The development of the blogging platform just a few years ago now makes it possible for leaders to hold ongoing "conversations" with employees and customers. What's really noteworthy is that the new software makes genuine INTERACTIVE dialogue possible."
Risking oversimplification, we have interactive leadership defined in contrast to transactional leadership, the analogy of interactive processing contrasted with batch processing, the traditional gender distinctions and the identification of an interactive leadership opportunity in blogging. What I'm identifying is that different types of power are being exercised. Transactional leadership it is about the power of position and interactive leadership is about the power of relationships. Interaction encompasses a broad range of relationship content and style whereas transactions involve more specific and controlled relationships. I find both the transactional and interactive leadership styles implicit in the model, A Vision of Leadership (now Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation), transactional leadership being associated with the value "implement" and interactive leadership with "innovate."

Implementation is about accomplishing a targeted outcome by following a planned process, managing the transactions that will lead to a specific, repeatable objective. Examples of implementation include registering an automobile, constructing a building and shipping $1B worth of products. Many of the manufactured goods we acquire, hardware and software, are intended to make implementation easier, quicker, cheaper and more reliable, whether it is buying groceries or managing a corporation. Implementation is about managing resources of material, energy and information through a series of predefined transactions. Until recently, except for household resources, this has traditionally been a man's world, especially when it comes to competition for resources. Implementation is usually conducted within a hierarchy of positions, each higher level taking responsibility for more resources. What I'm describing is often called management and I am perceiving that transactional leadership may indeed be management in disguise. The ideas of "transactional" and "interactive" may usefully inform the much discussed difference between management and leadership.
In contrast to implementation, innovation is about doing something that has never been done before, at least in the environment in which it occurs. While innovators may implement predefined transactions to establish conditions for innovation like concentrating, avoiding distraction, bringing the appropriate resources together, setting goals and allocating time and money, they innovate in the absence of predefined transactions and outcomes. I believe innovators engage a process, in relationship with others and/or their muse or higher power, out of which innovations emerge. This has much in common with the traditionally feminine paradigm of participation, sharing and inclusion and could well be described as interactive leadership. I would not be surprised to discover that feminine qualities are conducive to innovation. Giving birth and nurturing our young, particularly, have to be right up there on any scale of innovation. However, I feel inadequately informed on what appears to be a very timely issue and would be interested in the results of any research that explores innovation along the gender dimension. (LATER NOTE. I accepted my own challenge in Leadership and Gender.)

Blogs would appear to support interactive leadership and thus innovation. A couple of months ago I quickly looked for CEO blogs that included leadership/management-employee interaction and found none. To the contrary I found a couple where employees vented to each other, in the absence of communications with leadership/management. I would also be interested in examples of interactive leadership in CEO blogs.

A quick google on "interactive leadership" showed many more web sites results than my Technorati blog search, so I may return to this subject. So far I have been reminded that it is because of their transactional nature that implementation activities are relatively easy to outsource and offshore which brings pressure for more innovation by domestic enterprises. The implementation component to every human activity insures that transactional leadership will always be a necessary skill but probably in proportionately less demand locally. This micro-study leads me to appreciate that a widespread call for innovation generates a demand for what some are calling "interactive leadership," explaining the appearance of this search term.

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

A New Vision of Leadership (now Leadership for Collaboration and Innovation)

The underlying leadership model is unchanged but more accessible, with descriptions adjacent to images and faster movement between images. You can now directly access individual features of the model from this page.

As before, this model arose as an exercise in visioning and is a specific illustration of a generalized technique. The model integrates the value pairs, lead and follow, innovate and implement. This is important because most issues of business leadership can usually be traced to a polarization around one of these values to the exclusion of another or others. Elsewhere I make the case that the intentions to innovate and implement are only useful when co-existing as innovate-implement; both bring about quite different activities but activities that can only be sustained in coexistence. Similarly, neither are the intentions to lead and follow useful in isolation; it is lead-follow that gets the job done.

The model terms simply arise as the outcome of 'containing' the tensions between these four values. The descriptions of the model's features however, using these terms, continue to be a challenge.

You can enter the new Vision of Leadership at any one of these feature links:

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Final Test of a Leader

"The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on." - Walter Lippman.

From HeartQuotes