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How Are We Aspiring to Lead?

I am getting the sense that our ideal of great leadership is evolving.

I have recently had the privilege of spending time with several General Managers of a large Ethiopian Investment group, who were gathered for their annual conference. I was invited to spend a couple of hours with them exploring what leadership and leadership development are.

The guiding questions for our interactions were: what is leadership development? What kind of leadership is required in this complex, fast-moving world, when having a vision and a strategy are not enough?

Indeed, here are some of the statistics we are confronted with:

  • 90% of strategies devised by organizations are actually not being implemented. (Center for Creative Leadership (CCL)
  • Only 30% of CEOs are confident they will have the talent needed to grow their organizations.  (PWC Trends in Human Capital, 2012), and
  • Good leaders create 3x more economic value than poor leaders, and extraordinary leaders create significantly more economic value than all the rest. (A Zenge & Folkman’s Study of 30,000 leaders)

A Leadership that Sources from Wisdom and a Purpose

Our conversations in this conference clearly showed that the leadership we are looking for is one that displays a way of thinking, listening and speaking that mobilizes the self and others into effective action, for the creation of a new future. One that is inspiring and visionary, rooted in values and in making a difference, through the unleashing of potential of others; a leadership that can adapt to volatile, fast moving and complex times.

The question we can pose to ourselves is: how can we cultivate this leadership, in ourselves, and others? And how can we do so in an ongoing manner, since, as adults, we keep on evolving and developing?

Conscious Leadership

Development is what Barret C. Brown, Ph.D., entertains in his article entitled ‘The Future of Leadership for Conscious Capitalism.’ Barret explains how, when leaders consciously continue developing, they perform better across a host of mission-critical domains. They are also able to think or strategically, systemically and contextually, thus more capable of leading transformational change and creating innovative solutions.

One of such leaders is the what Barret calls the Level 5 Leader, who has the following practices:

Deep connection: These leaders have profound personal meaning about their work, and consistently make decisions based upon it. 

Conscious vision and outlook: These leaders draw upon both intuitive intelligence and sophisticated tools like integral theory and whole systems thinking to make sense of the world.

Conscious and courageous action: With deep trust in themselves, their team, and the process, these leaders dynamically steer, rapidly experiment, and shift leadership roles as needed. They are more inclusive, collaborative, and open to feedback.

Self-transformation: Through vertical and horizontal learning, they are able to stop self-sabotage, and take the reins of their own evolution, also supporting their stakeholders to develop.

What is Your Legacy?

Having learnt the above, I ask myself:  where can I develop more? What practices can I adopt to grow as a leader, and enable others to grow? And in our context, what else can we consider to lead more effectively?

I would love to learn from your reflections too.

Image from: The Funding Network