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 discussion.

The topic at hand was a rich and challenging one:  reinventing leadership so it’s inspired and inspiring. As you 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 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 is a moral center. Ethics and integrity matter.
  • Confidence and humility in equal measure and used appropriately. Laughter and tears welcome.
  • 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, so be it with directives. Otherwise, power is used with others and to produce win-win outcomes. Leaders know when to flex.
  • 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.
  • Some 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 to go home while it’s still daylight. Seeing your kid in a play or a soccer game matters.
  • It’s also OK to take a real vacation. 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, our new paradigm list is a work in progress. What elements would you add?