Building a new leadership paradigm

There’s something, isn’t there, about the ambiance of a little coffee shop that spurs how-we’re-going-to-change-the-world discussions?

The topic at hand was a rich and challenging one:  reinventing leadership so it’s inspired and inspiring. People want to produce value and feel valued. Just-a-cog-in-the-wheel environments must go. Ethics and integrity tossed aside for economics and perpetually better bottom line results is wrong, wrong, wrong.  What needs to be changed and how would it be accomplished?

As one might imagine, there was immediate consensus on the need for a new leadership paradigm and no shortage of ideas for what it should be. Our caffeine-stimulated change ingredient list so far:

  • No more singular focus on just the bottom line as a measure of success. Somewhere along the line, Drucker’s observation that “what gets measured gets managed” was corrupted.  Hard and fast metrics make management easier, but that isn’t the point.
  • There must be a moral center. Ethics and integrity matter. Must end the Murdoch mentality of “get the story no matter what.”
  • Leaders apply confidence and humility in equal measure; both are used appropriately. Laughter and tears are welcome in the work place.
  • Contrarian points of view (albeit presented professionally and without haughty condescension) are encouraged. Brown-nosing is no longer a required promotional competency.
  • Power is used appropriately. If it’s a truly command-and-control scenario (crises), directives are OK. Otherwise, power is used with others and to produce win-win outcomes. Leaders know when to flex between styles and are held accountable for doing so.
  • Gender, race and ethnicity are irrelevant to effective leadership.
  • Pronouns reflect inclusion (we, not me) and courage (it was my decision…)
  • There’s a team-oriented approach to achieving results coupled with a spirit of “we’re all in this together.” No more “me-centered” spotlights.
  • Tough empathy rules. A job well-done is recognized and rewarded. Less-than-stellar performance is addressed immediately via thoughtful, continued coaching; follow-up required.
  • Serious thought goes into perks. Pooh-bahs don’t continue to fly in corporate jets while clerks and assistants have to pay for their morning cup of coffee.
  • Diversity goes beyond lip service and really means something. Inclusion is valued.
  • It’s OK, expected even, to go home while it’s still daylight and/or not come into the office on the weekend. Seeing your kid in a play or a soccer game matters.
  • Vacations are for renewal, really. Clear your head. Come back renewed not current with your email.
  • The squeaky wheel doesn’t get all the attention. People talk, share, engage. Political correctness in agreeing with the guy with the loudest voice isn’t politically correct anymore.

Given the breadth, depth and complexity of leadership, this new paradigm list is a work in progress. What elements would you add?



7 Responses to Building a new leadership paradigm

  1. Wow! Great list! Wish I could be part of your coffee shop discussion one day… for now, I’m going to save this! Right now, I’d just add 1) hearing a good belly laugh now and then and 2) the aroma of good coffee…

    • Terry - love your addition of laughter. It’s a joyous sound missing from some workplaces. Thanks for sharing and off to sip some coffee!

  2. Power is used to infuse a common passion into the air; a desire (even happiness) to be part of the team; and everyone is given the opportunity to contribute to the goal, no matter what their position or place in the hierarchy. Success is shared and celebrated. Compassion soothes sorrow.

  3. Pingback: A new leadership paradigm | Conscious World Business |

  4. Jane: I enjoyed your article very much. It is time to understand not only what leadership really means, but for leaders to reinvent how they lead by finding new ways, better ways to develop vertical and horizontal communication and leadership within organizations and communities. It is clearly time for leaders and those who aspire to leadership to…”get their BIG on”.

    BEGIN by getting back to basics. Leadership is many things, but at its core leadership is about inspiring, engaging and realizing the best in ourselves and others when the going is tough, when the road is rocky, when doubt obscures our true passion, purpose and potential. Leadership is the light in the midst of a dark tunnel, the beacon that takes us forward and helps us use what is to create what can be.

    INSPIRE others to see the value in the challenges we face by looking at problems, challenges, chaos and opportunities with new eyes that take them forward. New eyes that help them reset default ways of thinking, doing and communicating that no longer work. New eyes that help them live, lead and communicate forward smarter, faster and happier.

    GROW stronger leaders by helping them use problems as learning points that enhance cognitive ability, (IQ) Emotional Mastery- strength, communication, resiliency (EQ) while building the values alignment, the ability to serve the greatest good that is the linchpin for sustainability.(SQ)

    I am passionate about what I call 3Q™ leadership. It is the focus of my work because I believe that the future lies in the hands of those men and women who will see the opportunity before us to build better lives, better organizations and contribute to a better world.

    As Betsy Ross, said to Thomas Jefferson …”Times of great challenge, demand great leadership.” The call for those who truly want to lead, truly want to serve the greatest good and can not only inspire others but work with others to create new ways, better ways of igniting and engaging the fire of human passion, purpose and potential is before us.

    Very best, Irene

    • Irene, your remarks about serving the greater good resonate. There needs to be more to business than money and results. While important, they’ve stolen center stage at the expense of relationships, employee value, sustainability, inclusion and engagement. Thanks for sharing!

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