Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Leadership and Implementation

This is an ongoing list of posts that have a focus on implementation:

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


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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